The Australian Veterinary Association highlights summer hazards for pets and asks pet owners to be kind to their vets

14 Dec 2021

Key points:

  • Summer time and the festive season bring some specific health risks to pets.
  • Similar to human emergency departments, there may be prolonged waiting times in veterinary practices over the festive season.

This summer, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is highlighting some common summertime hazards for pets, so that animal owners can take precautions to ensure the safety and health of their furry companions, especially over the festive season.

Heat stress occurs when the pet’s body overheats due to hot temperatures and excessive activity. Some pets can be more prone to suffering from heat stress, including brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds, and those pets that are overweight or have long or heavy coats.

Exercising pets during the cool of the early morning or evening can help avoid the risk of heat stress, and it also avoids pets having to walk on hot pavement, which can lead to burnt paws which can be an incredibly painful cause of lameness.

It is important to always ensure that pets have access to fresh, cool water and a cool shady place to rest, out of the sun during the heat of the day. Pets should also never be left inside vehicles, as the temperature inside cars quickly climbs, leading to potentially fatal heatstroke.

“Summertime also means snakes and paralysis ticks may be more prevalent – which can mean an increased risk to your pet, and if affected, urgent veterinary attention is required. The upcoming festive period also reminds us to not feed certain food items to pets, such as onions from the barbeque or fatty leftovers from the table which can be a real danger to pets, requiring veterinary attention” said Dr Warwick Vale, AVA President.

Some local veterinary services may be reduced over the festive season, as veterinary practices need to take a break to look after the teams well-being, and are unable to get staff to replace them, requiring temporarily closure.

“Veterinarians have not only faced the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, but also continue to be affected by long-term workforce issues including low remuneration, poor mental wellness and an overall relative veterinary shortage due to high rates of attrition from the profession”, said Dr Vale.

The Australian Veterinary Association is asking all pet owners to be thoughtful, respectful and patient towards veterinarians as they deliver the necessary care to your pets. Pet owners can assist both their pet and their vet by being prepared over the holiday period - by checking your local vet clinic’s opening hours, noting the location of your nearest after-hours emergency vet hospital, and in all cases - ringing ahead to alert the vet practice that you are on your way. Be prepared for longer than usual wait times at veterinary practices, particularly veterinary emergency hospitals as they will be busy over the festive season.

For more information about mitigating common summertime hazards for your pet, visit the AVA’s Vet Voice website.