How to care for our furry family members during extreme weather

Let’s spare a thought for our furry family members who also need to be taken care of during an emergency.The month of February is the SES’s Caring for companion animals and livestock in emergencies month. We took the chance to catch up with veterinarian and past IFAW Animal Action Award winner (Online Animal Action) Dr. Rayya T-Malaeb to get her tips on caring for your pets during extreme weather or an emergency. - JS  

It is very important to realise that pets just like us can suffer during extreme weather. We often find that the geriatric or debilitated animals and those really young ones are the ones mostly at risk in a heat/cold wave. Generally, geriatric patients have underlying medical conditions like heart disease. As for puppies and kittens or other neonatal animals, they may simply be too young to appropriately regulate their temperature and are consequently quite vulnerable to extreme weather.

In saying so, people must be active in ensuring their pets are not subjected to very high or low temperatures that can compromise their wellbeing. Owners should not take their dogs out for a walk during the heat especially the brachycephalic breeds (e.g. pugs, Staffordshire bull terriers, French bulldogs, American bulldogs and etc.) as they are very prone to developing heat stroke. Everyone must make sure to provide their animals with suitable shelter whether it is a well set up shed or bringing them indoors. They can also warm up their pets when it is freezing or actively cool them down when it is really hot. Tips for cooling your pets down include: applying wet towels on them or giving them a cold bath and adding ice blocks to their water bowls.

If your pet is still suffering from heat stress and not responding to your cooling efforts, you must seek emergency veterinary attention as this is a life-threatening condition.

Lastly, if you live in high risk fire areas, you should be accessing your state’s emergency website regularly and getting ready to immediately evacuate with your pets when warnings have been issued.


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters