We asked sitters with amazing safety records how they do it. These are their best tips.
How to prevent lost pets
A little bit of advanced planning goes a long way
Prevent front door escapes
- Open doors slowly and keep an eye on any pets as you enter or exit.
- Add exercise pens or baby gates around doors with outside access.
- Consider using a side or garage entrance instead, if available.
Invest in a tracking device
- Consider getting a tracking device to put on any pets you’re caring for. If they do get lost, it will be much easier to find them.
Inspect leads and harness
- Look for tears, damage, or weak points before heading out on a walk.
- Just in case, bring a backup lead to use instead.
Pro tip: Avoid using retractable leads because they can easily snap
Preventing dog disputes
A positive introduction between dogs can help keep the peace.
Introduce dogs on neutral territory
- Try a local park, go on a neighbourhood walk, or meet in your own backyard if you don’t own a dog.
- Introduce dogs one at a time and keep them on lead so you always have some control.
Avoid dogs you don’t know
- Cross the street when out on walks.
- If someone asks if their dog can greet yours when out and about, politely decline.
Understand dog body language
- Did you know yawning can indicate stress?
How to prevent pet illness
Keeping pets healthy involves thinking like a pet.
Pet-proof your home
- Keep medications, cleaning products, and human food out of reach.
- Use baby gates or exercise pens to keep dogs away from off-limits areas.
- Don’t leave pets unattended with things they may unsafely ingest.
Use cameras to keep an eye on things
If you can, consider getting a camera to monitor pets when you’re not with them.
How to check dog vital signs
Heart rate: A normal heart rate for dogs is 60-140 beats per minute.
- Put your hand to the dog’s chest.
- Count how many pulses you feel in 15 seconds.
- Multiply by 4.
Respiration rate: Healthy dogs take between 12-24 breaths per minute.
- Count the number of times the chest expands in 10 seconds.
- Multiply by 6.
How to keep pets safe in summer heat
As temperatures rise, it’s important to know how to keep pets cool, especially for certain breeds.
Climate-sensitive breeds and conditions
Although you should be mindful of rising heat with all dogs, certain breeds and conditions merit extra care and attention to keep them safe. This includes giant breeds, elderly or obese pets, diabetic animals, and all snub-nosed or brachycephalic dogs. These are dogs that have a harder time regulating their temperatures due to shorter nasal passages.
Rising temps? Keep a close eye on these breeds:
- All Bulldogs
- Chow Chows
- Golden Retrievers
- Boston Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Chinese Cresteds
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- English Springer Spaniels
- French Mastiff
Tips for keeping pets cool
- Have playtime, exercise and walks in the early morning or evening.
- Avoid high-intensity activities such as long walks or playing fetch.
- Walk on grass rather than hot, black pavement and consider booties to protect their paw pads.
- To cool a dog down fast, wet their paws and chest with cool water.
- Offer an ice pack or cool wet towel to lay on.
- Bring a water and collapsible dish on walks.
- Fill a paddling pool with shallow, cool water.
- Offer access to shade by stringing up a tarp or cloth, or use a shade screen.
- Add ice cubes to the water dish.
If you notice rapid breathing, panting, fatigue, muscle tremors or staggering, contact a vet immediately.