News and Media

Summer pet care

January 3, 2018
Pets need extra care to keep them healthy and happy in summer.

Summer can be a whole lot of fun, but it also sees a dramatic increase in extreme weather events, such as severe heat, bushfires and thunderstorms.

During summer we need to take extra steps to keep our pets cool, safe and healthy. Here are our top summer pet care tips:

Keep your pets cool

  • Make sure your pet always has access to shelter and shade (be mindful that shade changes throughout the day as the sun moves)
  • Where possible, bring pets indoors if they are susceptible to heat (eg. pets who are elderly, juvenille, overweight, or short-snouted breeds) and monitor them throughout the day
  • Provide plenty of fresh, cool water in multiple bowls in case of accidental spills
  • Put ice blocks in your pet’s water to keep it cool
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle during warm weather – it can take only a few minutes for them to become critically ill and die
  • Limit exercise on hot days and only walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when it’s cool
  • Wipe down your pet with a cool towel, or leave out damp towels for them to lie on
  • You can wet down your dog to give them some relief from the heat, but make sure this is done gradually with lukewarm water, not suddenly or quickly
  • You can rub damp hands over your cat’s coat or along their tummy. Cats generally don’t like water, so be careful if washing them down, as it may cause them more stress
  • Never use ice cold water to cool your pet – this can cause them to go into shock
  • Some pets may need a summer groom to help keep them cool, so speak to your vet for advice specific to your pet
  • If your dog likes water, consider buying them a wading pool to put in a shady place


Watch for signs of heat stress and heatstroke

Heat stress and heatstroke are serious conditions that can lead to death. If your pet shows any of these signs, seek immediate vet attention:

  • Excessive salivating
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking
  • Dry nose and gums
  • Whining
  • Constant panting

These can lead to more serious effects, including:

  • Dark, purple-coloured tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Download fact sheet: Heat stress and your pet

Help your pets cope with thunderstorms and fireworks

Thunderstorms and fireworks are more common in summer and can be terrifying for pets, causing them to flee their homes in fear and become lost or injured.

If your pet has previously shown signs of fear or anxiety during storms or fireworks, make an appointment with your vet without delay. They’ll be able to suggest treatment options based on your pet’s individual needs.

Remember to make sure your pet’s identification – including microchip – are up to date. This will give you the best chance of being reunited if they go missing.

Download fact sheet: Fireworks, storms and your pet


Beware of snakes

Snakes are more active in the warmer months, with Tiger and Brown snakes the main venomous snakes in Melbourne.

To reduce the risk of a snake bite, keep the grass short in your yard. When out walking, keep your dog on lead and out of long grass.

Signs of a snake bite include:

  • Sudden collapse
  • Blood in urine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Frothing at the mouth
  • Tremors
  • Sudden death

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, immediately take them to your vet or nearest emergency vet.

Prepare for bushfires

Bushland, grassland and coastal scrub are especially prone to fires during summer. No matter what area we live in – city, suburban, coastal or rural – fires can affect us all.

Prepare your bushfire survival plan as soon as possible. Be sure to include your pets in these plans – they rely on you for care and protection. Visit the CFA website for information on how to keep your pets safe this fire season.

Help heat-stressed wildlife

Hot weather can be fatal for our native wildlife. If you’re lucky enough to share your property with wildlife, there are things you can do to help keep them cool and prevent heat stress. Visit the Wildlife Victoria website for tips.