As pet professionals, you can play a vital role in encouraging pet owners to consider how they will care for their pets during a bushfire state of emergency.
Certainly, it doesn’t mean a pet owner doesn’t love their pet if they haven’t considered what action they will take during a bushfire state of emergency — or any other natural disaster for that matter.
Often these are things we simply don’t think about. However, Australia’s recent and continuing bushfires should prompt a moment of reflection — for pet professionals and pet owners alike.
Have a conversation with your clients and customers about the importance of having a bushfire plan and ensuring it includes their pets.
“People living in bushfire zones will have planned ahead and will be prepared for such emergencies, but we can’t stress enough how critical it is that pets are also included in any emergency plans,” says Dr Julia Crawford, President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).
With bushfires still raging across many parts of Australia, there’s no better time to discuss creating a bushfire plan.
Ask owners what they’ll do with their pets if they need to evacuate their home. Advise that it’s helpful to confine pets early, to avoid having to find them last minute. Plus, promote the fact that using a lead or pet carrier is the best way to keep pets safe.
If a client or customer has many animals, which they plan to move in the instance of a bushfire, remind them that the relocation must be done before the fires get close.
Planning ahead means knowing what locations will offer refuge for pets and humans (as some disaster rescue centres do not allow pets). Pet owners may need to make pre-arrangements with a friend or family member.
Cages and leads should be readily accessible and the pet’s identification should be up-to-date and on them at all times!
Encourage pet owners to draw up a list (if they haven’t already) of essential items for their pet. According to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) emergency kits for pets should include:
While it’s imperative to know what to do with pets in an emergency, such as a bushfire, it’s also essential pet owners are made aware of how to care for their pets in extreme heat.
“It’s crucial to remember that our pets can’t perspire in the way humans do and produce only a tiny amount of sweat through their footpads. They cool themselves down by panting, but sometimes this isn’t enough, and they start to overheat,” says Dr Crawford.
Make sure pet owners know the signs of heatstroke and are aware that it can come on quickly. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
To assist their pet, owners can be advised of the following actions.
Ensure pets have continuous access to fresh water
Make sure they have shade or a cool area to lie in
Place cool, damp towels or cloths on their body (ideally on the hair-free parts)
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