Summer is here, at least in Australia, and that brings risks for our pets. Here are those risks and how to keep your cats and dogs safe., thanks to Dr Louisa Fenny of Pawssum…



Summer may be the season of fun but for fur babies, it can pose extra risks. Dr Louisa Fenny, a  veterinarian at app-based home vet visit booking service Pawssum Vets, said a range of health issues became more of a problem in Australia’s warmest months and pet owners needed to be vigilant to guard against them.

Heatstroke (or Heat Stress)

Dogs and cats don’t sweat as humans do; they only pant and so are prone to overheating, especially during summer.

  • Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, weakness, high fever, lethargy, vomiting and unresponsiveness.
  • Ensure you have enough shade in outside areas (shade cloth may not suffice).
  • Avoid walking pets during the middle (hottest) part of the day in summer.
  • When walking your pet on hot days, ensure they have plenty of shade and rest along the way.
  • Make sure they have extra water accessible at all times. Many dogs love to play with large (icecream container size) iceblocks which helps keep them cool and can be made at home.

Holiday Hazards

Summer is often a time of getting away and frequently involves changes in routine, which can impact pets.

  • Taking pets on the family holiday can be a great idea but the environment is often less controlled than at home. If you’re taking your pet with you, ensure the space is safe by conducting a thorough check as soon as you arrive.
  • Consider leaving your pet at home; travel can be tough on them and pet sitters are easier to come by than ever now and Pawssum vets can come to the home if any health issues arise while you’re away. Even boarding can be a better option for anxious pets.
  • Before you head away, ensure your pet is in good health and its vaccinations are up-to-date. Whether they are coming with you or staying with a sitter, a full health check is a great idea.
  • Make sure if you’re taking your pet with you that they have their usual foods and bed (if possible) and try to keep to your at-home exercise routine.

Skin Cancer

Just like in humans, skin cancers don’t develop overnight in pets. It’s therefore critical to keep their sun exposure in mind throughout the year, but especially during the harsh summer months.

Cat behaviour problem
  • Don’t allow your pets (cats especially love this) to spend a long time on the windowsill on a hot day.
  • Consider your local area – those parts of Australia with searing temperatures are linked to higher rates of skin cancer in pets.
  • Pet sunscreens don’t offer enough protection on their own.
  • Skin cancers are most common in hairless areas ie. the nose, eyelids, ears, and abdomen

Festive Threats

  • Many pets will seek out festive foods that are dangerous to them – especially hot leftovers that have been sitting out as they can cause food poisoning – so keeping a close eye on where they are is key.
  • Most cats and many dogs are lactose intolerant so regular chocolate is a ‘no no’. In fact, chocolate is toxic for dogs because they don’t have the biological mechanism to process it. Dark and cooking chocolateis more dangerous than mild chocolate but if a dog ingests any chocolate, it needs to be seen by a vet fast.
  • Lollies and desserts like Christmas pudding are not a good idea for pets; they do not need sugar at all and can impact their teeth and waistlines.
  • Many people tend to ‘put their feet up’ and ‘let their guard down’ at this time of year while relaxing but this can pose trouble for pets who do like their routine so do try and keep to yours so your pet doesn’t get anxious.
  • Fireworks and excessive noise from Christmas guests and parties can be stressful to pets so ensure they have a quiet, safe space to chill out.


Dr Louisa Fenny

About Pawssum:
Pawssum enables vets to make home visits and then refers cases needing surgery to trusted and selected Pawssum referral vet clinics around Australia.

Pawssum’s on-demand veterinarians can deliver 80% of a pet’s health care needs in the home – or office – including vaccinations, health checks, dental checks, behaviourist consultations and peaceful at-home euthanasia for increased comfort and privacy.

Head to for more details.


More reading
Sun safety tips for pets
Festive food fears for furry friends
The hidden hazards in your home for pets
Travel with pets
Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy in Daycare


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