It took its sweet time but summer is finally here! Sun, surf, cricket on the beach, festive get togethers and of course, hot hot hot weather!
If you saw that picture of a koala cooling down during a heatwave in Adelaide a few years back, you'll know how important it is to keep cool, and help our pets and surrounding wildlife keep cool too!
So may I introduce the ultimate 10 point Unleashed Summer Survival Guide!
- Be Water Wise! Always leave water out for your own animals as well as the sweltering wildlife, and top it up throughout the day (you'll thank me when you see magpies dunking their heads in the waterbowl!) If you have a pool make sure you cover that when you're not home – they are just so inviting at this time of year that animals may decide they wanna have a pool party, which can lead to trouble when they can't get out! (PS If you have a dog, a shell paddle pool is the best Christmas present you can buy!)
- Never Ever Leave an Animal in the Car! Not even for 30 seconds. Even on cloudy days, the temperature inside the car will increase very quickly — even with the window down or the air conditioning on. Pets are at severe risk of heat exhaustion and death in this situation, so it's never worth the risk.
- Watch out for Snakes! Those slipperies can really thrive when the weather warms up, so if you're walking your furry friends through bushlands or national parks, be extra careful to avoid snakes and make sure you know what to do if one of them manages to nip your pet. Snakes are attracted to the cover of scrub and long grass. If this sounds like your backyard, mow the lawn (or tell your parents to!) and pay attention for symptoms of snakebite — some are less obvious than others.
- Pets are Not Presents! Never ever buy an animal as a gift for someone, no matter how big the puppy dog eyes are! People should only get animals for themselves when they are sure they are ready for the commitment of having a pet, and then it should always be from an animal shelter, never a pet shop.
- Secure the Perimeter! Before the festivities start, ensure that your yard/house is safe and secure. Many pets can be spooked by loud noises including storms and especially fireworks. An escape proof property means there's no chance of Fido bolting over a fence or through a window and becoming lost or running into traffic. And ensures you don't spend your Christmas day frantically searching the streets!
- Keep Decorations Out of Harms Way! When hanging ornaments, lights and tinsel on the tree, ensure they are high enough off the ground so as not to become a choking hazard to pets. We all know how much curious cats love shiny things!
- Provide a safe haven! When the house becomes crowded with friends and relatives, shy animals can become nervous and seek solitude. Make sure there is always somewhere quiet, away from people, where your animals can retreat to if they need to. You may also need to join them there for some time out by the end of the day! ;)
- Ration Leftovers Wisely! We've all seen the longing eyes of our beloved dogs and cats trying to levitate the food off the table, especially at holiday time. But certain tasty foods are potentially dangerous to dogs or cats and can cause significant damage or even death. While this list is certainly not definitive, some common foods on the Christmas table to avoid feeding your pets include: chocolate, grapes (raisins and sultanas) and nuts (both of which will probably be in your Chrissy pudding), garlic or onion (do you put these in your gravy or stuffing?), sugary candy, yeast (in bread), mushrooms, tomato leaves or stems, anything with caffeine and cooked chicken or turkey bones. Click here for a more extensive list of toxic foods. You should also never give your pets paracetamol, as this can kill the animal not the pain, (besides you may need it yourself for the Boxing Day recovery)! If you suspect your animal may have eaten something that could be harmful, take them to the vet immediately.
- Take Them With You! Ask your parents to find pet friendly accommodation if you are planning a trip away. Dr Katrina Warren has a few tried and true pet-friendly holiday spots listed on her website, as well as some very important tips for travelling with pets. If you really can't take your best friend with you, make sure you check out and inspect the best kennels available in your area and book well in advance (they fill up very fast for Christmas time!).
- Be Prepared for Wild Activity on the Road! Keep an emergency kit in the car for any unforseen mishaps on the road. As well as food and water for your own animals, make sure you bring extra, along with a blanket and a box in case you come across injured or exhausted wildlife on the road. Save the phone number for the local wildlife rescue service in your phone before you set out.
Let me know if you've got any more tips on how to ensure the festive season is enjoyed by all members of the family!
And for great ideas on having the ultimate cruelty-free Christmas, check out this brand new tradition: Pardon A Pig! Happy Holidays!