Skip Navigation

Health warning issued to pet owners amid hazardous smoke and soaring temperatures

Health warning issued to pet owners amid hazardous smoke and soaring temperatures

  • Pet insurance claims for heatstroke have soared over the last five years
  • Research reveals the breeds most likely to suffer heatstroke and respiratory disease

18 December 2019: Many of Australia’s pets are going to struggle through one of the warmest and smokiest summers on record and heat-related insurance claims will continue to climb unless owners take more action to protect their pets.  This is the warning issued today by PetSure, Australia’s largest pet insurance underwriter. 

In data released in PetSure’s Pet Monitor report, the pet health expert reported that in 2018 alone, 358 insured pets were treated for heatstroke, with numbers peaking over summer months. Unfortunately, despite education campaigns and media support, the incidence has almost doubled between 2013 and 2018.

PetSure Veterinary Officer, Dr Lauren Bennett, offers this advice on keeping pets safe as the mercury level soars and vast areas of the country remain cloaked in hazardous smoke.

“Our pets rely on us so please put ice blocks in their water bowl to keep their water cool during the day. Don’t ever leave animals in hot cars unattended even if the window is down and the car is parked in the shade.  And, make sure you provide shelter for your animals in the shade if they spend a lot of time outside,” she said.

“For those living amid the ongoing smoke haze we would encourage pet owners to keep their animals indoors as much as possible, with the windows kept shut. Our pets can suffer from similar types of respiratory conditions that we do including asthma and bronchitis, which can be exacerbated or worsened by poor air quality,” Dr Bennett explained.

Certain dog breeds are more likely to suffer from heat stress and respiratory disease, in part because their flattened faces make it difficult for them to breathe. PetSure claim data shows that the British Bulldog, French Bulldog, Great Dane, Australian Bulldog and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are the top 5 breeds most likely to suffer heatstroke according to claim incidence. Obese dogs, very young dogs and very old dogs are also in the high-risk category.  

The cost of treating heatstroke in dogs can vary substantially depending on how the dog presents, progression of the condition and any complications. The highest claim received by PetSure for heatstroke was just over $22,000.

 It’s important for owners to look out for signs that an animal is in danger of overheating or having trouble breathing.

“You should see your vet immediately if you notice unusually heavy panting or drooling, and if the animal’s gums change to a bright red or pink colour. If untreated, heatstroke can cause seizures, coma and even death,” Dr Bennett said. 

She added, “Signs that your pet might not be coping with the air quality include noisy breathing, increased effort when trying to breathe and coughing or sneezing. Other signs may include lethargy and reluctance to move, vomiting and other signs of irritation such as weeping eyes or a runny nose. If you’re worried about your pet, please speak to your vet as soon as possible.”

Owners are encouraged to keep pets inside, and out of the sun and smoke, even if that disrupts their daily routine.

“It’s dangerous to exercise dogs when it’s hot and smoky and owners should avoid walking their pets on hot surfaces. If the ground feels hot to your hand, it’s too hot for your dogs’ paws,” she said.

When it comes to travelling on hot summer days, Dr Bennett says there’s no excuse for leaving animals in hot cars or utes.

“In parked cars, there is not enough ventilation, it gets hot very quickly and they can die within minutes. Ute trays get extremely hot and are a hazard for burning paws. If you need to travel, throw an old blanket down to protect your pet,” she said.


Media contacts:

Holly Clark, BlueChip Communication

M: 0452 069 936

E: [email protected]

About PetSure

  • Petsure provides a sense of security to half a million Australian pet owners.
  • We are three different businesses within one – a global leader in underwriting, claims processing and administration services.
  • As an insurance underwriting agency we power the pet insurance propositions of more than 25 brands, including some of Australia’s most recognizable and prestigious brands, such as IAG, AAMI, Woolworths, RSPCA, PetBarn, Guide Dogs, Medibank, Bupa and HCF.
  • As a global leader in claims processing services we assess over half a million Australian claims each year and we are retained by leading pet insurers in the United Kingdom and the United States to provide claims processing services.
  • Administration services is our third business arm: the financial technology solution GapOnly. GapOnly is a paperless claims service whereby a customer can obtain claims approval within minutes, without ever leaving the veterinary surgery. It transforms the claims experience with reduced out-of-pocket expenses and is progressively rolling-out to veterinary surgeries and hospitals Australia-wide.
  • As an underwriter, administrator and fintech company, Petsure is helping to transform the pet healthcare experience of Australian and global pet parents, with a commitment to their lives with their pets.
  • To find out more about PetSure, please visit