Emergency vets issue plea as Met Office puts out UK’s first ever ‘extreme heat’ warning
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 reports a French bulldog died last week from heat stroke and brain damage following a short walk in hot weather near Livingston.
Vets Now clinics up and down the country have seen a big increase in heat stroke admissions in the last week as temperatures have soared across the UK.
The emergency vets have treated an average of 20 heat stroke cases a week since the start of June, but on Saturday and Sunday alone they treated 15 cases. Many of the most severe were caused by dogs exercising too vigorously between 8 am and 8 pm when temperatures were at their highest.
Dave Leicester, who looks after a team of experienced video vets at Vets Now, said: “We’ve been inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke during the recent hot spell. Heavy panting and breathing difficulties are among the main 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 this, 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.
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 infographic which 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, out of hours, their nearest 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.”
One of the other reasons dogs often succumb to heat stroke is when they are locked in a hot car.