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Australia’s national vet association are appealing for pet owners to consider their pets’ safety and wellbeing this bushfire season.

“People living in bushfire zones will have planned ahead and be prepared for such emergencies, but we can’t stress enough how critical it is that pets are also included in any emergency plans,” said Dr Julia Crawford, President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

Dr Crawford also urged pet owners to ensure that they take the necessary steps to look after their animals 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.”

Heat stress can occur rapidly, and signs can include noisy panting, seizures, drooling and collapse.

“Heat stress can kill your pet, it is an emergency in itself, so it is critical to know the signs and get your pet to a vet as soon as possible,” said Dr Crawford. “This might not always be possible during a bushfire, so it is equally essential that you know how to assist your pet until you can get to a vet”.

“Place your pet in front of an air conditioner or a fan and put wet towels on the hairless parts of their body, such as footpads and the groin, to help them cool down, and ensure they have access to plenty of cool fresh water.”

The AVA recommends an emergency kit for pets ahead of time in case evacuation becomes necessary, which includes non-perishable food and water in spill-proof containers.

“If it starts to look likely that evacuation may be necessary, try to confine your pets to the safest enclosed room of the house, such as the bathroom, where they can be quickly collected. Make sure you also have your pet’s carry cages and leads on hand, so you don’t have to search for these if the decision is made to leave” said Dr Crawford.

This article originally appeared on Over60.

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