Skip to content
Home » How Climate Change Will Affect your Pets – and How to Help them Cope

How Climate Change Will Affect your Pets – and How to Help them Cope

How Climate Change Will Affect your Pets - and How to Help them Cope

How climate change will affect your pets – and how to help them cope. Earth just experienced its hottest month since records began, and Australia is currently bracing for an El Niño-induced summer. The intense heat is not only a challenge for humans, but it also brings suffering to our beloved pets.

The research I was involved in looked at how climate change affects animal welfare, including companion animals. My colleagues and I have used an animal welfare assessment concept known as the “Five Domain Model”. It’s a scientific construct to test:

  • nutrition
  • environment
  • Physical health
  • behavior
  • mind status.

The model evaluates the comprehensive physiological and behavioral responses of animals to environmental stressors. Although the effects of climate change on animals have been studied before, our study is the first to apply a specific model to animal welfare.

We reviewed the academic literature and found that climate change will harm animals across all five welfare areas. This applies to wild and domestic animals, including domestic animals. So let’s see how different types of pets behave in a warming world – and how we can help them.


Fish are “ectotherms“, i.e. they use external heat sources to regulate body temperature. As a result, aquarium fish are vulnerable to changes in the water temperature in your aquarium, which can happen during a heatwave.

Water temperatures that are too high can be harmful to fish. For example, it can increase a fish’s metabolic rate, meaning it needs more oxygen to breathe. It can also cause changes such as slow growth and decreased feeding. According to official advice, the water in an indoor aquarium should generally be kept between 20°C and 25°C (unless you keep tropical fish).

Depending on your budget and the size of your aquarium, you may choose to use a device to control the water temperature. In any case, it is important to regularly monitor the water temperature.

Also, make sure that the aquarium is not placed near a window where it is exposed to direct sunlight.

Leaving your aquarium unattended for days or weeks in the summer can be dangerous due to the risk of heat waves. If you’re on vacation, consider arranging for a fish sitter to check on the animal regularly.


Heat stress can alter the physiology of poultry. For example, research on a small wild Australian robin population shows that during a heatwave, these birds lose body mass and abandon nests, and some die.

Heat stress can also cause unusual behavior in ornamental birds, such as feather pecking, when one bird repeatedly pecks another’s feathers.

During hot weather, check your bird’s cage regularly to make sure it’s clean and stocked with food and water. If the bird is in an outdoor cage or aviary, make sure it is shaded from the sun. And a shallow bird bath will help keep your feathered friend cool. 


Dogs and cats can get sick on hot days. This is especially true if they are:

  • elderly or overweight
  • have a thick coat
  • have a short/flat muzzle (restricting airflow and making it harder for them to cool).
  • Heat stress can cause hyperthermia in dogs, which means a dog’s body temperature becomes dangerously hot.

Watch for warning signs of heat stress, such as excessive panting and erratic movements. These symptoms can quickly worsen, leading to heatstroke and possibly death. More than 80% of dog owners report exercising their dogs less vigorously or for shorter periods of time when the weather is hot. This can help avoid heat-related illnesses. But don’t reduce your dog’s activity level too much, as this can lead to other health problems. Just time walking to avoid the heat of the day.

Avoid leaving dogs unattended in the car as they can easily overheat. In fact, it’s best to leave your dog indoors on hot days, as long as they have a cool place to rest and drink plenty of water, maybe even ice cubes. And the dogs love to cool off in the kids’ pool or under the fountains.

If you take your dog outside on a hot day, bring him a bucket of cool water. And don’t forget to slide-slop-slap:
Apply a small amount of pet sunscreen to your dog’s exposed pink skin, such as the ears and nose.


Like other animals, cats can overheat in hot weather. Symptoms include panting, drooling, and a rapid pulse. As with other pets, if you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, call your veterinarian immediately.

Climate change, heat, and related floods are likely to promote the spread of parasites and diseases, including tick-borne diseases, flea infections, and heartworms. This puts dogs and cats at risk.

In hot weather, advice for cat owners is the same as advice for dog owners:
Make sure your cat has plenty of shade and water, and apply pet sunscreen to their ears and nose, especially if the cat is white. If possible, keep your cat indoors during the hottest part of the day. Make sure at least one room is cool and ventilated. And in the event of a heat wave, play with your cat early in the morning or late in the evening, when the temperature has cooled down.

A human helping hand

While humans have the ability to understand and prepare for climate change, pets will need our help to cope. This includes not only the pets listed above, but also others including reptiles, guinea pigs, and rabbits. As heat waves and other extreme weather events become more common, it is our responsibility to protect our pets 카지노사이트