Top Vet Advice To Survive The Summer Holidays With Dogs & Cats
Everyone is thinking about the summer holidays so now is the time to think about the really, really super important things we need to do to make sure our pets are kept safe and well. Read on for our top tips to survive summer holidays with your dogs and cats.
Even if you aren’t going away, and only perhaps going on day trips, there are plenty of important things for you to consider.
Don’t forget our pets are part of our family too and so whether we take them with us or if we decide to leave them at home, we do need to have a plan for their well-being.
In this post we are going talk about prepping to go away and for the public holidays. I’ve also prepared a downloadable that you can use to note down all the things you want your pet sitter, dog kennels, cattery, friend, neighbour, vet to know about your pet and your wishes for your pet in the case of an emergency.
There will be some brief discussion on heat stress, tick paralysis and being aware of how Christmas goodies and decorations can be a danger.
If you prefer You can watch a Facebook Live recording on this topic.
Make a plan for when you are out of reach
One of the most disappointing things that I see as a veterinarian all the time is when people go away and they haven’t made a plan for what the pet sitter/dog kennels/cattery is expected to do if there is a problem and you can’t be reached.
Accidents happen, pets get sick. It is inevitable that you will be away and something will happen to your pet.
It is extremely frustrating for veterinarians because often the person looking after your pet doesn’t have any idea what your wishes would be.
Sometimes we have no way of contacting you and so we (the sitter and the vet) are left guessing “should we treat this pet and how much money should we spend?”
Having all the details in one place ensures that your pet receives the very best care totally within your budget.
There are so many points that your sitter needs to be aware of to care for your pet appropriately:
- Contact details of you and another trusted person who can make decisions on your behalf – I cannot stress how important this is!
- All feeding details: type, amount what they are allowed and what they aren’t allowed! You don’t want a sitter giving your dog a pigs ear then they choke on it!
- Any allergies your pet might have. Eg your cat might be really sensitive to mosquitos. Or your dog might not be able to have penicillin or even schmackos might upset his tummy!
- A list of known health problems or concerns and importantly, what medications your pet is on and when they have to receive the medicine.
- Highlight any behavioural quirks ie. Your dog really doesn’t like men wearing a hoodie and will attack and bite! You don’t want accidents to happen! Can you imagine the uproar if your dog attacked and killed another animal because you failed to say they ‘might’ do this.
- Working out how much money you are prepared to spend on each pet is super important. I cannot stress how valuable this information is to everyone! It’s not ok to say “I love my pet and I will spend whatever it takes”.
If your dog requires surgery in an emergency and it’s going to potentially cost $10,000 can you really afford that? Can you justify it?There is absolutely no shame on putting a value on how much you are prepared to spend on each pet. I do it. Many people do. It really does save a lot of heartache later on.
- If your pet is insured, pop down the Insurance company details and policy number. Many vets now can process claims immediately.
- Don’t forget to include your Vet’s contact details and your local emergency centre details. If your dog is going away, stipulate whether you are happy for the sitter to choose a vet that is convenient for them.
There is so much to think about and as you can see our form helps you to combine all this information in one place.
Avoid the Christmas holiday rush
Leaving everything to the last minute is a bad habit of mine. Really, I should have learnt by now.
If you leave getting your pets organised for the summer holiday to the last minute you are just asking for trouble.
It’s a good idea to check the following:
- Vaccinations – are they up to date?
- Flea, worm and tick prevention – is it up to date? Do you have enough to get you through the public holiday period
- Medications – do you have enough supplies so that you aren’t caught short over the public holiday period? Make sure you have sufficient quantity so that if accidents happen such as the sitter drops some pills down the drain, there are enough to get you through until the vet is open once again.
- One thing that you might not realize is that veterinarians can’t fill a script from another veterinarian. It’s against the law. Pharmacists are the only ones that can fill and dispense a script. The really frustrating part is that pharmacies don’t carry animal medications, so you may not be able to source a specific animal only medication for your pet. Please, ensure you have enough medications for your pet before the public holidays! Be wary of pet online chemists in this situation. Many are from overseas and unregulated. Getting your medications on time may be an issue. Our online pet script service is available if you are caught out.
- Ensure Microchip details are up to date in the Pet Registries. Every time you move, or change a phone number you need to make sure the details in the registry are changed.
If your pet ever goes missing, the first thing that any dog pound, vet, pet rescue or pet shelter will do is check the microchip and call the name and number attached.
Here are the contact details of the common registries in Australia and NZ – go check now!
For Australia go to this website: http://www.petaddress.com.au/ and put in your pet’s microchip details and then head to the registry that it is linked to.
Currently, there are 4 private microchip registries and 1 NSW State government registry:
Australasian Animal Registry
Central Animal Records
and the NSW State government registry – the NSW Companion Animal Registry
For New Zealanders go to The New Zealand Companion Animal Register
24/7 Emergency vet care
As we know very well, things happen when we least expect it, especially during the summer holidays.
Consider organising an account with your vet so that it is in credit for the holiday period.
Alternatively, give your vet written permission to have your credit card number on file at a set limit to pay for any treatments while you are away.
You could do the same for a pet sitter.
Don’t forget to provide phone numbers and addresses of your local vet clinics and emergency centres to your pet sitter!
Our online vets are available 24/7 if you need us.
Food and water for your pets
When heading away make sure you have enough of your pet’s normal everyday food for the entire trip. Trust me, you don’t want to be dealing with tummy upsets!
Take a bowl, and a portable bowl for water can be super handy, especially when going on hikes, or when you need to stop in the middle of nowhere for a leg stretch.
It can be a good idea to take a big container of water from your property. Some animals especially cats and horses, can be terribly fussy when it comes to what water they will drink, so keep this in mind.
How to prevent heat stress
I love to get out and about during the summer holidays, and it is even better when I can enjoy that time with animals.
One thing we do need to remember is that our animals don’t have the same coping mechanisms for heat stress that we do. So, they can rapidly become affected, while we are still ok.
Dogs and cats dissipate heat via panting and from sweating through their paws. Their skin does not sweat like ours.
Heat stress kills. The best cure is prevention.
Tips to prevent heat stress
- Don’t go out in the heat of the day – exercise at dawn and dusk
- Be aware that hot and humid is just as bad and the ability to cool down is a lot harder for your dog and cat
- Always provide access to shade and airflow
- Pull curtains or blinds so that rooms are kept cool
- Allow them access to rooms with tiles on the floor
- Use aircon and fans
- Think of playing with water, using a sprinkler or pool
- Clip your pet. Even if it’s just the belly underside. This will help cool them down
- Give cooling treats such as ice blocks filled with their biscuits, hunks of meat, tuna etc
- Always have fresh water available
- Please never leave your pets in a car. Leaving the aircon going in a stationary car just isn’t good enough. It really is not effective
How to tell if your dog has heat stress
It’s crucial that you understand what heat stress looks like:
- Rapid panting and appearing stressed
- Collapse, wobbly, unwilling to move
- Bright red gums and tongue
- Vomiting or regurgitating
If you notice any of these signs you need to act immediately to cool your dog down.
Get them in the shower, in a pool or throw a bucket of water over them. If using a hose be very careful that you check the water temperature as it could be boiling from lying in the sun all day.
If your dog is not vomiting and is able to stand, offer a little water. Don’t let it guzzle a huge quantity at once.
If after doing this your dog is bright, happy, is wandering around and appears completely normal that is great.
If not you need to get to a vet asap. This is a medical emergency and you should not try to handle this at home.
These dogs don’t survive if they don’t receive medical attention and unfortunately, even with medical attention, some will still die.
Yes, heat stress is serious.
Always ring the clinic to prepare them you are coming in. They will need to have a whole team waiting for you.
In the car have the aircon on your dog or the windows wound down for airflow.
How to prevent tick paralysis in dogs and cats
Another situation to remember when you are travelling, is that sometimes you might travel into an area that has different bugs and parasites to your home area.
Most commonly, this will be the paralysis tick especially if you are travelling from WA, SA or VIC into neighbouring NSW or QLD.
Don’t forget though, that if your dog or cat is normally kept inside, and doesn’t really go into bush or beach areas and you then holiday in such an area, they will also be at risk.
There are many products that work extremely well for tick prevention. If you need some help choosing a product comment below and we will help you out.
Make sure that every night you make it a routine to run your hands over your dog or cat’s entire body doing a tick search. Remove any you find and look out for signs that they might be affected.
The great thing about tick paralysis is that it is COMPLETELY preventable if you use appropriate products. For not more than $100/year you can save your pet’s life and heartbreak.
Signs of tick paralysis
It is worth noting the signs of tick paralysis so you can be alerted of a potential problem:
- Wobbly on their feet, maybe lame
- Change in voice – bark or meow
- Increase respiratory rate or more effort breathing
- A soft, weak cough
If you notice any of these signs please head to your vet.
Watch this video of Dr Leigh to learn how to perform a tick search:
Christmas dangers for our pets
Our pets are inquisitive and Christmas is a time when there are many decorations, toys and food present.
We don’t want our pets to eat things they shouldn’t and become sick.
This means ensuring that the garbage cans are kept firmly closed, small toys are put away, decorations and toxic plants are in places that pets can’t reach.
Be prepared for the summer holidays
Summer holidays are a time for lots of family fun and games. We can’t forget our pets so let’s be prepared. Download the pet detailer and make sure that all of your wishes are catered for. Happy summer!