RSPCA Victoria issues urgent hot weather reminder to pet owners

Water and shelter imperative for keeping pets safe

As the hot weather continues, RSPCA Victoria is issuing an urgent reminder to all pet owners to ensure they provide plentiful water and adequate shelter for pets. Last year RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate received 3,657 cruelty reports relating to lack of water or shelter.

Each year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of distress calls about animals without water and shelter during the hotter months and is urging pet owners to keep track of the weather forecast and act accordingly. It is imperative that pet owners make hot weather plans and ensure animals are never left outside without water or shelter, even for short periods, and that smaller pets are moved indoors.

Michael Stagg, Chief Inspector at RSPCA Victoria said with the state currently sweltering it is important to remind pet owners of both their legal and moral obligations to pay extra attention to animal care during warmer weather.

“We know Victorians are eager to make the most of the summer weather after long periods of time in lockdown last year, however owning animals comes with legal obligations to ensure they are properly cared for.

“Planning and preparation are key to caring for pets during summer months, particularly when we know hot weather is coming, so when planning your summer activities – don’t forget to plan for your pets.

“If you must leave animals outdoors in the heat, ensure they have lots of fresh water and a place to shelter from the direct sun and hot winds. Consider the movement of the sun throughout the day and how this will impact your pet’s ability to access shade and regulate their body temperature,” said Mr Stagg.

RSPCA Victoria advises keeping animals out of the sun, especially between the peak sun hours of 10am and 2pm and leaving small animals indoors, especially rabbits and guinea pigs who are particularly susceptible to suffering from heat stress and can deteriorate quickly. Animals housed indoors should have well ventilated facilities with plenty of water and space for all animals to lie down.

Large animals and others that live outdoors need access to proper shade and multiple water sources and must never be tethered. Provide water containers in different positions and make sure they can’t be tipped over.

RSPCA Victoria advises exercising pets during the coolest part of the day and speaking to a veterinarian about whether pets require sunscreen. Remember to remove heavy rugs from horses and ensure they have access to shaded areas, in the form of permanent structures, temporary shading or, large trees with dense overhang.

Heatstroke is a state of hyperthermia and occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to lose heat. Heatstroke is a very serious condition that can lead to multiple organ failure and animals can die quickly if not treated.

RSPCA Victoria advises pet owners to be aware of signs of heat stroke exhibited by pets and intervene where necessary to help them cool down.

Signs of heat stroke.

• excessive panting

• drooling

• agitated behaviour

• dizziness

• an increased heart rate.

Heat stroke is an emergency and veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible if suspected. Initial emergency treatment at home should aim to normalise body temperature.

What to do if a pet is suffering from heat stroke.

• Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur/skin

• Fan the wet fur/skin.

• Do not use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem.

• Call a veterinarian

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, any person in charge of an animal is required to provide food, water and shelter, as well as appropriate husbandry and veterinary attention as needed.

Anyone who has concerns for the welfare of an animal is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria on 9224 2222 or at rspcavic.org and lodge a cruelty report.

To find more information about how to keep your pet safe during hot weather visit https://www.rspcavic.org/summer

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