Walking dogs in hot weather could end in tragedy, warn vets

Emergency vets have issued a plea to dog owners to avoid exercising their pets during the hottest part of the day, warning the average survival rate of a dog diagnosed with heat stroke is only 50%, and can be fatal in as little as 15 minutes.  

The warning comes after the Met Office predicts Britons are in for a stretch of warm weather over the next couple of weeks. 

Vets Now clinics up and down the country are braced to see an influx in heat stroke admissions as our pets grapple with temperatures which are set to soar into the mid 20’s in some parts of the country. 

Vets say it’s safe to take your dog for a walk in cooler temperatures as long as they are well-hydrated. 

However, external temperatures above 20C put your dog at risk of heat stroke, an illness that occurs when dogs are no longer able to self-regulate and keep their body temperature down. 

Many of the most severe emergency cases seen by vets are caused by dogs exercising too vigorously in the middle of the day when temperatures are at their highest. 

Dave Leicester, an emergency vet, who looks after a team of experienced video vets at Vets Now, said: “Every summer, we’re inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke during hot spells. Heavy panting and breathing difficulties are among the main early signs of heat stroke, which is life-threatening if left untreated. 

“While dogs need regular exercise, their health and welfare is our greatest concern and during hot spells such as the one coming in the next couple of weeks, we would urge owners to walk their dogs in the early morning or late evening to avoid temperature extremes.” 

Dogs can succumb to heat stroke – which is a high temperature not caused by a fever – if their body temperature rises just a few degrees above normal. 

Heat stroke can kill a dog within 15 minutes. Dogs who are overweight or suffer from brachycephalic syndrome — upper airway abnormalities typically affecting flat-faced breeds — are most likely to experience the condition, but all dogs are potentially at risk. One of the other reasons dogs often succumb to heat stroke is when they are locked in a car on a warm day – external temperatures do not need to be very raised for cars to rapidly become dangerously hot. However, all dogs can easily overheat if they’re exposed to hot temperatures and a lack of ventilation and drinking water.  

 Vets Now emergency vets have created a helpful infographicwhich provides a useful guide as to when is it too hot to walk a dog. 

One of the most concerning aspects of heat stroke is how quickly it can take hold. It develops rapidly in dogs, and once signs appear it’s often too late to save their life. 

However, even when caught relatively early, it can still result in brain and organ damage. 

Dave added: “Owners who are concerned their dog may have developed heat stroke should contact their vet as soon as possible or, if out of hours, theirnearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic. “Remember we also have Video Vets Now where you can speak to an experienced vet from anywhere, although heat stroke is a serious emergency and requires urgent treatment. 

The earlier a dog suffering heat stroke is treated, the better chance they have of recovery.” 

Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur. 

You can book also book an appointment at Video Vets Now and get chatting to a qualified vet from anywhere. If a pet needs to be treated at any vet clinic, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.