As temperatures begin to plummet, the heaters and fires make an appearance. Winter is well and truly underway, which means there are an increasing number of hot items putting our furry friends at risk.
Nadia Crighton, a representative of Pet Insurance Australia, says that keeping pets at a safe distance from fires and heaters is paramount to avoid injury.
“Sadly, we do see the numbers increase for burn claims around the months of May, June, and July,” she said.
“Burns can be incredibly painful and happen very quickly so pet parents need to be aware of the dangers.”
But it appears that fires and heaters aren’t the only problem. Pet Insurance Australia has also seen an increase in burns from hot drinks such as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Unfortunately, it appears that wagging tails are a magnet for such drinks, which can often lead to serious scalding.
“Just like with children, care does need to be taken with hot drinks and pets,” Crighton suggests. “Accidents can happen in an instant so pet proofing your home is a must this season.”
Tips to keep your pets safe in winter
Pet Insurance Australia recommends a few key tips to keep your beloved pets healthy, happy, and away from the vet this winter:
- Use a fire guard for log fires: A fire guard is an easy way to avoid accidental burns this winter. Costing from as little as $20, it can definitely be a cheaper alternative to the vet.
- Use a baby-gate or pen for standalone heaters: Similar to the previous tip, baby gates/pens are another cost-efficient way to ensure the safety of your fur babies. It is also a good idea to use a cage if you have a cat who is very adventurous.
- Train your dog to stay a safe distance from the heating source: Many dogs and other pets don’t understand the concept of a heater and will want to investigate. It is important, especially with younger pets, to train them to stay a safe distance away.
- Keep hot drinks out of reach of swishing tails and curious noses: Always make sure you know where your hot drinks are, and that they’re out of reach of your pets. Similar to children, pets don’t understand that the mug on the coffee table is boiling hot – they’re too excited to see you!
- Always supervise pets around heating and turn it off when not around: Not only is this important for you and your furry friend, but heaters are expensive, especially during colder months. Get yourself into the habit of turning it off when you leave the room.
- Do not use hot water bottles for pets: You might enjoy using a hot water bottle during winter, but for many pets this will look like a toy. If they manage to bite through the plastic, they’re going to be in for a nasty surprise.
- Be careful using electric heating pads. Follow the manufacturers instructions and do not use if damaged or faulty: This tip is common sense more than anything else, and quite often, if you have an instinct about a certain product, you’re probably right.
- Keep pets away from cleaning and garden chemicals: Not only a good tip for winter, but also year-round. Pets are mischievous, we all know that, so it’s a good idea to keep chemicals in a locked cupboard or shed.
What to do if your pet suffers a burn?
Accidents do happen, and if your pet does suffer a burn, Pet Insurance Australia advises it is vital to seek veterinary treatment immediately. As burns can take up to 48 hours to show their full extent, your pet will be in a lot of pain during that time. For your safety, it is advisable to pop a soft muzzle on your dogs or make one from a bandage.
If your pet has suffered a burn:
- Put any flames out quickly and turn off the power if a heater is involved: Many people forget to turn off the source of the heat, and are more focussed on getting their dog to the vet. It’s all well and good to take care of your pooch, but don’t risk losing your house over it!
- Do not use ice or any ointments: Just like with human burns, don’t use ice or any ointments on your pets’ injury; in some cases, this can actually injure the skin tissues more.
- Cool the area with a sterile wet cloth: Make sure it is clean and cold in order to avoid any infections. Gently hold it on the burn.
- Do not panic: Many fur parents get very panicked when their pet is injured, but it’s important to remain as calm as possible. Pets can sense when their owner is stressed and this will stress them out even more.
- Get to the vet immediately: Once you’re sure that the source of the heat is no longer a danger, focus on getting your furry friend to the vet to begin treatment.
Emergency plans in action
It is a common time of year for house fires, and many homes come under the threat of danger. Pet Insurance Australia recommends having an evacuation plan that includes your pet.
Sit your family down and discuss a meeting point outside the house, and who is responsible for what pet. It’s also a good idea to keep a dog leash with your basic emergency kit in your car. You could even have a ‘mock emergency’ and see how quickly the home can be evacuated.
Having a plan is the best way to combat a stressful situation. By knowing what everyone needs to do, how to get out, where to meet, and responsibilities you may have, you can continue to stay warm and safe this winter.
Be sure to check your home and pet insurance policies and contact your insurer if you think you may be eligible to make a claim: