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How to prepare your pets for bushfire season

A state of emergency has been declared in NSW prior to tomorrow’s catastrophic fire danger risk. Even though many of us are in low fire danger areas on the Northern Beaches, some areas are at greater risk than others, include parts of Davidson, Forestville, Ingleside, and Terrey Hills. You can check the bushfire risk for your address here. We also urge you to download the Fires Near Me NSW app so you can set phone alerts for fires near your address.

It is important to prepare now for tomorrow’s extreme heat and the possibility of evacuation. Fires can move very quickly so anything you can do today to save time tomorrow may mean the difference between life and death.

Know where your pets are, and take steps to ensure you can quickly move them to the car if you do need to evacuate. If you have free-roaming pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or birds, consider confining them to one area of the house or a hutch today to assist in rapid evacuation tomorrow.

Either pack a bag of essential items for your pets now or know where all items are so you can collect them quickly. Essential items include:

  • Medications. Pack enough for at least two weeks.
  • Food, especially if your pet is on a special diet. Food that does not require refrigeration, such as canned/dry food, is best.
  • Bottled water
  • Water & food bowls
  • Blankets and bedding
  • Poo bags for dogs, or a small litter tray with some of your pet’s preferred litter substrate for cats and smaller pets.
  • Items to confine/contain your pet with your contact information clearly visible. Depending on your pet these may include a carry cage, harness, leash, collar, a pop-up pet enclosure, or plastic boxes (with air holes).
  • A first aid kit
  • Some comforting items, such as treats, favourite toys, or a Thundershirt.
  • Recent photos of your pets in case you get separated


If an emergency evacuation centre is activated, pets will be welcome at these locations, if you have no other alternative. Your pet will need to be contained by a cage or lead, and you will need to bring your pet’s emergency kit with you. An emergency centre’s activation and venue is determined by the location and type of emergency, and will be communicated by 702 ABC Emergency Radio.

You should also be aware of your local Neighbourhood Safer Place – please visit this website for more information and to locate your nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place.


Northern Beaches Council’s Emergency Management Support Officer has announced staging for large animals in preparation for tomorrow. For horses and other livestock, Frenchs Forest Showground (including Lionel Watts Reserve) and Pittwater Rugby Park may be used as emergency evacuation staging areas at any time.

The amenities at these facilities are simple, thus people are strongly encouraged to make alternative arrangements to stay with family or friends where possible.

If you evacuate to these venues and council staff are not yet on-site, call customer service on 1300 434 434 for assistance.


☀️ Keep all pets inside if possible, especially smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, who are particularly susceptible to heat. Set up a temporary home in a bathroom or laundry where the tiles will help keep them cool.
☀️ If you are unable to move pets inside ensure that their hutch/kennel/play area is in the shade.
☀️ Freeze water bottles today for pets to huddle against and lick tomorrow, or freeze water bowl with treats or toys inside.
☀️ Fill a wading pool or clam shell with water (in the shade) for your dogs to relax in.
☀️ Only walk dogs in the very early morning (or evening), if at all – if in doubt, a day of rest is the safest choice, especially for bracycephalic dogs or dogs with thick coats.
☀️ Provide plenty of fresh, cool water sources in large containers.
☀️ If your pet seems uncomfortable, try wetting their feet and misting water on their face. Many animals control their core temperature through their feet. Be careful though not to saturate birds, rabbits, or guinea pigs as they can go into shock.
☀️ Leave a few extra water bowls out throughout the day and night for wildlife.
☀️ Never leave an animal alone in a car for any amount of time on hot days. If you see an unattended animal in a locked vehicle, call the NRMA (13 11 11) or 000 immediately. You do not need to be a member of the NRMA to call for assistance. Do not attempt to break into the car yourself without contacting the NRMA or 000 first for advice.


Dr Caroline Wood