Queensland is home to endless sunshine, perfect waves and friendly people. Although, in the warmer months there can be unique health risks that we need to protect our pets from.

We spoke to Animal Welfare League Queensland veterinarian Karishma Dahia for tips about how to keep your beloved pets safe from heat exhaustion paralysis ticks, snake bites and cane toad poisoning.

Dog panting on couch

1. Avoiding heat exhaustion

Keep your pet cool.
As it heats up it’s important to keep an eye on your pets to make sure they’re not overheating. 

Karishma shares four hot tips for doing just that.
  • Short back and sides: if you have a single-coated dog that would benefit from having a short coat during the warmer months, you might want to consider giving your pet a trim. Check with a professional groomer if you’re unsure if your pet’s coat is single or double. 
  • Plenty of shade: always provide adequate shade for your animal.
  • Make a pool: shallow pools are a great way for your pet to take a dip and cool down.
  • Frozen treats: try freezing some treats in water – this will keep them busy and cool as the ice melts.

Stay out of the sun:
While your four-legged friend may look forward to a daily stroll, it’s best to avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day and keep walks to early morning or early evening when the sun has gone down.

Karishma shares a few extra tips on things to avoid when it’s hot. 

  • Exercise: be aware that exercise in hot weather can result in heat exhaustion and organ dysfunction. 
  • Avoid hot pavements: the pavement can be very hot, which can burn your dogs foot pads – avoid walking your dog on hot pavements.

Direct sunlight: it’s important to keep in mind that animals can also experience sunburn. If your dog is pale in colour, try applying sunscreen to any exposed skin.

Never leave your dog in the car!
We hear a lot of stories of dogs being left in cars…. Karishma explains why it is never OK to leave your dog in a car.

“Leaving your dog in the car is the same as leaving your child in a car.. The car quickly becomes a furnace, reaching extremely high temperatures in just minutes. These temperatures will rise - even with the windows down –  under no circumstances is it ever a good idea to leave your pet in the car.”

Know the signs of heat exhaustion.
Look out for these signs if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion.

  • Panting
  • Wobbly legs
  • Hyper salvation
  • Vomiting
  • Your pet may also pass black stools

Act quickly

If your pet does display signs of overheating, jump into action immediately:  

  • Seek veterinary attention heatstroke is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. When taking your dog to the vet, make sure you have adequate air flow in the car. A spray bottle or wet towel draped over them will also help keep them cool.
  • Cool them immediately: immerse your pet in a cold bath (not icy cold). You can also drape them in a cold, wet towel or run a cool hose over them.
  • Maintain airflow: after wetting your dog, keep air circulating around their body with a fan or air-conditioner.
  • Get them drinking: if your dog or cat is able to drink, give them a large bowl of water.

2. Signs of a tick bite and how to prevent them

Ticks migrate to our gardens and parks during the warmer months, so keep an eye out for these unwanted guests. Here are tell-tale signs to look out for if you suspect your pet has experienced a tick bite and, most importantly, what to do if they have been affected.

Tick prevention
It’s important to check your pet daily for ticks as well as treat them with an ongoing prevention treatment. There are lots of brands on the market, so it’s best to check with your vet or visit an AWLQ Community Vet Clinic to find out which brand is right for your pet. Vet Products Direct have a huge range of products and RACQ members receive a 10% discount. 

Warning signs of a tick


  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Vomiting
  • Change in the pitch of their bark.


  • Excess or extra salivation
  • Heavy breathing
  • Grunting
  • Not able to use their back legs at all.

How to remove a tick safely.
It’s important to check your pet daily for ticks… What should you you do when you find one? 

Karishma explains:

“It’s okay for pet owners to remove a tick themselves. You’ll want to get a firm hold on the tick with some pointy tweezers, pinch and twist while applying small pressure. You should then bring the tick in to your local vet for identification and for the bite to be checked.”

Most pet stores also stock tick removal kits, so you may want to pick one up and keep it handy, to be on the safe side. 

3. Warning signs of a snake bite

Avoiding snakes in summer can be difficult, although you can minimise the risk of a snake bite by being aware of your surroundings and sticking to a few simple rules.

When out walking, make sure you stay on paths and trails and avoid long grass plus keep your dog on a leash.

The signs of a snake bite can vary, so your pet may show some or all of the following signs: 
  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of muscles
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils / not responsive to light
  • Blood in urine
  • In the later stages paralysis may occur.

If your pet shows any of these signs it’s best to immediately take them to your vet .

4. Keeping the toads away

With summer comes pesky cane toads. Unfortunately, some dogs  enjoy chasing these poisonous creatures. Karishma provides a few tips on keeping our pets safe from cane toads.

  • Train your dog not to chase. If you have a dog that enjoys hunting, you may see them chase toads often. You can try leash training with rewards to teach them not to go for toads...
  • Keep pets indoors at night: we suggest keeping your pets indoors after dark to reduce their risk of being poisoned.
  •  Keep your dog on a lead: this can reduce the chances of your dog getting poisoned by a cane toad, as you can control where they sniff and what they sniff.

Warning signs of cane toad poisoning:

  • Hyper salvation 
  • Frothing at the mouthtenalphas
  • Unusually red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Shivering and in some cases seizures

     If your animal displays any of these signs, please take them immediately to your vet.

    Protect your pet.

    Vet bills can be costly, so to protect your furry friend (and your bank account). It’s a good idea to take out pet insurance

    Like health insurance, pet insurance can cover your loved one for things like illness or injury, emergency boarding and, surgery. Pet insurance will provide you with the reassurance that no matter what happens; you’ve got your little mate covered.

    Find out which pet insurance is right for you.

    Learn more about the Animal Welfare League Queensland.

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