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With more stormy weather and possible flooding on the way in NSW, animal companions have their own special challenges and needs. Wild weather puts pets at higher risk of illness, anxiety and harm.

Dr Adam Sternberg, Regional Clinical Director of Greencross Vets, advises pet owners to be aware of potential risks.

‘Flood water may be contaminated with sewage containing E. coli or parasites such as giardia, which can cause serious gastrointestinal upsets, including vomiting and diarrhoea,’ he said.

‘Ensure you provide fresh water to minimise the chance that your dog may drink storm water,’ Dr Sternberg suggests. ‘Provide some of their favourite food as well.’

Wild weather brings risks for dogs

Anxiety

‘Pets may be experiencing increased anxiety from the storm,’ said Dr Sternberg.

‘A frightened pet may display a range of out of character behaviours, including hiding under furniture, drooling, pacing, barking, destructive chewing and attempts to escape.

‘If a dog is anxious, natural appeasing pheromone such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway in cats may help. A thundershirt may help to reassure dogs.’

Harm

Dr Sternberg said, ‘Pets must be provided with a safe and secure environment so that they cannot hurt themselves or run away in a time of increased anxiety. Some pets may need temporary accommodation depending on the severity of the situation at home.

‘If you have an outdoor pet, set up an indoor area that is safe and secure. The laundry or bathroom are good temporary locations as they are tiled and your pet may feel safer in a smaller space,’ said Dr Sternberg.

‘Any areas in the home that are safe and secure are also ok. Most pets like a cubby hole or secure environment to seek refuge. Ensure they cannot hurt themselves,’ he said.

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If you need to evacuate

  • Stay safe, ensure you’re away from flood waters and follow directions from authorities.
  • Pack plenty of freshwater and try to avoid your pet drinking contaminated flood water.
  • Don’t forget to pack your pet’s food, any medications, collars and leads for dogs and secure carrier for cats and smaller pets.

If you find a stray animal or wildlife

  • Take them to your closest vet to be scanned for a microchip as soon as travel is safe. Vets are able to attempt to re-unite these pets with their owners if their information is up to date.
  • Many wildlife are scared as they have been removed from their local habitat. Gently place a towel over them and securely transport to your nearest vet or call your nearest wildlife rescue. Be careful as they may bite.

In case of animal emergencies, if your local vet is unable to help, or if you’re travelling, the Animal Referral Hospital is open 24/7 for emergencies, with locations across the country.