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How Climate Change Can Complicate Pet Ownership

This summer’s bushfires and heatwaves may have led you to wonder how climate change will shape our lives. But have you given any thought to how it might affect your pets?
March 23, 2020

Australia’s summers never used to be this hot. With such extreme conditions, we truly cannot deny the effects of climate change. The recent bushfires and heat waves have brought danger to the lives of many Aussies, wildlife, and even pets.

The safety of pets due to climate change has become a health issue after several dogs were reported to have died due to the hot weather. Duke, a boxer, was among those who passed away last December after he was locked in a crate. Because of their flight delay, it was left on the tarmac under the intense heat of the sun which reached almost 40 degrees celsius.

This has prompted Virgin Australia and Qantas to announce a new set of rules regarding certain pet breeds flying in their aircraft. There are pros and cons to the overhauled restrictions. The said rules can be a hassle for breeders because of the breed restriction. But on the positive note, the overall welfare of canines brought in flights is improved and more attention is given on the issues surrounding snub-nosed breeds.

Travel Precautions

The bushfires have indeed affected all pet-owners in the country, not just in terms of calamity survival plans but travel plans as well.

Snub-nose breeds are more susceptible to deaths during a plane ride. This is because of their snort snouts and respiratory systems. Warm weather poses additional risks for these dogs since their bodies need to work twice as much to regulate temperature. This urged Qantas and Virgin Airlines to improve and tighten the travel requirements for certain dog breeds, including snub-nosed dogs.

Qantas recently announced that all snub-nosed pets should be cleared by a registered veterinarian just before the flight. Such measures have been implemented because these dogs normally struggle to breathe, even during regular or mild conditions. It covers all snub-nosed dogs such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers.

As for Virgin Airlines, they decided to completely ban bringing snub-nosed breeds and certain rabbits during flights until further notice.

However, some people believe that said breed restrictions are arbitrary since there is no clear evidence on the specific temperatures that are dangerous to dogs with certain body weight, age or head shape.

Risks of Inbreeding

The new travel restrictions will not just affect pet owners, but also rescue groups and dog breeders who often fly puppies across the country so they can go to their new homes. With that, there may be a decrease in demand for breeds covered by the travel restrictions. As an effect, small numbered breeds might experience fewer international and interstate movement of gametes. In other words, there’ll be more inbreeding and less genetic diversity.

Simone Blackman is a breeder of Tibetan spaniels that are classified as snub-nosed dogs and included in the flying restrictions. Likewise, Tasmanian-bred puppies can only be transported in the country through ferries. Of course, this is not better for the puppies since the travel time is much longer than by plane. It’s impractical for the hobby breeder as well. Not to mention that there will be fewer genetic diversity from the country’s mainland.

Eco-Friendly Pet Ownership

Just when you think humans are the only ones leaving carbon footprints, then think again. As climate change worsens every day, people are reminded to make better financial and more ethical decisions when it comes to caring for pets. Pet food production emits potent greenhouse gases, namely nitrous oxide and methane, which massively contribute to global warming. A US study back in 2017 showed that a single year of pet food production releases toxic gases that are equivalent to 64 million tons of carbon dioxide. Moreover, store-bought pet food needs to be transported which further adds to carbon dioxide emissions.

As an alternative, you can prepare homemade dog food using locally sourced ingredients instead of buying those that are highly processed. It’s also better if you’re able to choose producers who are dedicated to providing ethical, healthy, and sustainable dog food to the public.

As a responsible pet owner, you should also be extra cautious when leaving the house with your pet, especially if there’s no shade. You can leave your pets at home instead and make sure that they’re in a cool and comfortable area.

Gentle Reminder For Dog Owners

With the existence of climate change, the weather in Australia has become significantly hotter in recent years and will continue to worsen unless climate change has been resolved.
Aussies are known to be dog-lovers in general. Since dogs breathe the same air quality and experience the same extreme weather conditions as its owners, the latter must be prepared to implement new and probably innovative measures to care for their pets.

Warmer weather means fewer walks for the dog, so as a pet owner, you should figure out ways to keep your dogs fit and active. Moreover, you must remember that both humans and dogs with pre-existing respiratory issues are among those who will suffer the most. With that in consideration, you should take extra precautionary measures when going out such as bringing extra water for you and your pet to drink.
 



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