We all know Australian summers can be brutal however, every summer we continue to see dogs dying in hot cars, paws blistering and wildlife without water.

This is your annual reminder about how to look after our fur kids and the animals that we share our community with.

As a former RSPCA Inspector, I find summers hard to deal with from on the animal front. I scratch my head and wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’

I know we all love our fur kids, we are lucky to live in South Brisbane where we have the means to give them their best life, however, I am still struck by the lack of knowledge around summer, heat and how it affects dogs.

Here are some examples I have seen in the last week:

  • Fur kids at Davies Park Market being walked at 11am on the bitumen, and then sitting out on the grass with no shade;
  • Dogs being walked (some by dog walking companies) at 11.30am down Montague Road when my thermostat said it was 32 degrees outside;
  • People going for a quick shop run at 2pm with their dog on concrete paths;
  • A group of people having a picnic on the beach without shade for the dog;
  • Someone crossing a road at the lights and the dog being in physical pain without the owner realising and they were dragging the dog across the road.

These are not stand out examples.

There can be really severe consequences for your fur kid if you don’t educate yourself.

Burnt paws are all too common and hurt like mad. Just like our feet, they become red, inflamed, infected, peel, and the pooch are left with red raw flesh on their feet.

You should be checking your dog’s paws at the best of times but in summer this needs to be an everyday routine.

Heat stroke is a very real thing in dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds (pugs, bulldogs, frenchies, boston terriers etc). These dogs can die from heat stroke and you need to know the signs and action plan if you find your pooch suffering.

Your Summer Guide to Fur Kids and Heat

To test if the ground is too hot to trot place the back of your hand (preferably) on the ground and hold for 7 seconds. If it is burning or you cannot hold for 7 seconds it is TOO HOT FOR YOUR FUR KIDS PAWS. Take the dog off the ground, go home. I always ask myself would I be happy walking on this in bare feet?

Walk early morning and evening when it is cooler, remember bitumen and concrete hold heat, so on really hot days, 5.00pm may still be too hot on a fur kid’s paws.

Buy some paw balm and apply each day to your fur kids paws. This not only helps with keeping an eye on them but also to treat dry paws which is common in summer.

You can also get doggy shoes to protect paws. They need to be fitted well, so I suggest going to a pet shop to test before you buy.

Dogs in Cars

Do NOT leave your dog in a car; with or without air-con on. It is an offence under the Animal Care and Protection Act and dogs can die within 6 minutes of being left in a car.

Pet First Aid

Enrol in a pet first aid program. We hold these periodically throughout the year and they are open to the general public. You can also contact Dog First Aid Australia to find their next first aid class. If you have a pup, a good question to ask about the puppy school you are thinking of attending is, “do you hold a first aid session?” At DDCB this is a vital part of our puppy school and I believe it should be part of all programs.


We also need to look after our wildlife so now is the time to pop water dishes out for them, leave in the shade and pop some around your local community area that you can keep an eye on. If you see wildlife in distress and you can help, take them to your closest vet – they have a duty of care to take in wildlife. If you cannot assist and you are concerned you can ring the RSPCA Animal Ambulance 1300 852 188 or Wildcare who have a 24hr hotline 55272 444.

What can I say to someone without them abusing me?

Based on the above, the first question I get asked as the owner of Doggy Day Care Brisbane is what can we do about it?

I have a few tips but I want to start by saying YOU have a duty of care to all animals and sometimes we need to advocate not just for our own fur kids but for others, remember they are the voiceless, we need to be their voice. No matter how uncomfortable it can be.

So here some tips:

  • Physically bend down and put the back of your hand on the ground. Do this in front of the person with the dog. It can be a visual reminder to them, and it is obvious the message you are conveying. You could add,  “I think this ground is too hot for your fur kids paws, what do you think?”
  • Politely approach them and suggest they test the ground. I suggest this especially at the markets when people are waiting in line. It’s not because they don’t care, they are just wearing shoes and don’t realise the bitumen is boiling!
  • Approach others the person may be with if you are uncomfortable talking directly to them and suggest they say something to their friend/partner/family member.
  • Advise the community. You will see me commenting on lots of local forums about this issue and it’s a great way to bring awareness to dog carers.
  • If you are a business, print an info sheet and put it in your window, this is a great education tool and during last year’s bushfires lots of people took action to help wildlife from seeing information in their local shops.
  • Report them, if you think there is evidence of abuse or neglect ring the RSPCA and lodge a complaint (this is vitally important if you see a dog in a car). You can also ring the Police if there is a dog in a car. Remember to get registration of the car, description, and breed if you can of the fur kid, description of the owner if you know, time and any other important information.

As a community we can always do better so use this information above. Copy it, make flyers, print it, google information sheets, and get the word out.

Summer and the heat put animals in danger. Let’s make sure, this summer, we know how to protect them.


Cover image: Shutterstock