31 December 2021

Remember, safety first this festive season – fur all the family

| Sally Hopman
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Dog wearing Christmas decoration

Make Christmas safe for your pets by ensuring they are protected during summer’s wild weather. Photo: RSPCA ACT.

We are now in the summer storm season so spare a thought for your pets.

Not only do many of them have better hearing than we do, they also have no idea what all the rumblings mean, and without proper care they can become injured or even worse.

RSPCA ACT chief executive officer Michelle Robertson says a little preparation can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your pets safe during summer storms.

“We’re very lucky we have access to technology that tells us when storms are approaching so we can prepare for them and ensure there is a safe place for your animals to go,” she says.

“Certain animals get very worried during storms so if you’re at home you should bring them inside, let them be close to their humans, and do what you can to drown out scary noises.

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“Animals, like humans, need comfort when they feel uneasy or threatened by unusual noises. It is also important to know your animal well so you can tell when they’re upset, just like animals can tell when their humans are not happy.

“If your animal feels safe, that will help combat any fears they might have.”

If your pet has to be outside during bad weather, it’s important to check the area to ensure there are no escape routes. Providing shelter such as a kennel – ideally in a protected area near the house – will help keep your dog safe regardless of the weather.

There are also a number of new products on the market, such as the thunder shirt, designed to act as an anti-anxiety wrap, akin to swaddling a baby. The tightness hits the animal’s pressure points and makes it feel secure and comforted.

However, be warned: the shirts don’t work with every animal because each has their own degree of sensitivity.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson with dog

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says a little preparation can ensure your pet’s safety during wild weather. Photo: RSPCA ACT.

Michelle says the most important issue when it comes to animal safety is to ensure pets are microchipped.

“That makes it so much easier if they get out to identify them and reunite them with their owners,” she says.

“Unfortunately, we still see many animals that haven’t been microchipped – almost 40 per cent.

“This is something that really concerns me.”

Michelle says cats also need looking after during storms.

“They will often hide during a storm and might not come out until they feel safe,” she says.

“That’s why we prefer cat containment. Indoor cats will usually find their own hiding spots, such as in an igloo or under the bed.”

Wildlife often needs human help during wild weather as well. Michelle says after a storm, people should look around their local area for fallen bird nests or stranded animals.

For injured, sick or orphaned animals, contact ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033, or check the organisation’s website.

Michelle says it is important not to try to handle kangaroos but instead contact Access Canberra on 132 281 if any injured or lost animals are found.

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