How to protect your pet from heat stroke during hot weather

Sheep dogs wait in owner's car. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Archive image: two dogs in a car - Credit: PA

The summer weather is here - and with it, warmer days and some warmer nights too.

Help your pet to cope with the heat with these top tips from Registered Veterinary Nurse Dot Creighton.

Dot says: "Heat stroke is not an uncommon condition and for many pets an avoidable one.  

"A rise in just two degrees Celsius in a dog’s normal body heat can cause the onset of heat stroke.  

"Dogs pant to cool themselves down and don’t sweat like us.


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"If stuck in a hot car, panting becomes a vicious cycle as each intake of hot air from their surroundings causes them to heat up even more, so they pant faster and with more effort which is exhausting for them."

"The main signs of heat stroke include:

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Heavy Panting
Excessive Drooling
Vomiting
Drowsiness and becoming uncoordinated
Collapse and if untreated, death quickly follows
 

"We can stop this from happening to our dogs – it’s simple keep them indoors during the heat of the day and if they are kept outside ensure they have access to shade regardless of the time of day.

"Drinking water is essential, so make sure their water bowls are topped up."


Dot's top tips:

If it’s hot outside walk your dog at the beginning and end of the day and avoid the hottest parts of the day. 

No dog is immune to heatstroke but overweight dogs, elderly dogs, dogs with dark coat colours and short nose breeds such as pugs and all types of bull dogs are all more susceptible to heat stroke.

Cool jackets and mats are not a substitute for taking your dog out in the extreme heat, but an aid to keep them cool in warm weather.

The ground gets hot!  Think how hot the sand can be under our bare feet on a sunny day – well the ground can be very hot for our dogs’ feet too.

If you are travelling in the car – yes have the air con on full blast but make sure your dog has enough room to move around, stay out of direct sunlight and make plenty of stops so you can give them an opportunity to have a drink.
 

What to do if you suspect your dog has heat stroke:

If you suspect your dog has heat stroke then get someone to call your vet while you do the following:

If in direct sunlight move your dog into the shade

Pour small amounts of tepid water on to their body. DO NOT USE COLD WATER as this can cause shock symptoms.  

If you have a towel handy put this over your dog and pour the water on the towel and keep topping it up

Help your dog drink a small amount of tepid water

Continue with pouring tepid water on them. You want to cool them down but not induce shivering.

Once the dog has been cooled transport to the vets for emergency treatment - ringing ahead is important so your vet can be ready for you

Dot added: "Don’t forget the realities of leaving your dog in a hot car.  

"Heat stroke can be fatal after only 15 minutes.  Studies show that opening the windows a small way has little effect on the temperature in the car and if your car is in the shade but its hot outside your dog is still very much at risk.  

"Take heed of the warnings and don’t leave them in the car during hot weather.

"In this case prevention is very much better than cure. If you have a dog plan your day around keeping them safe during hot weather spells.  This is includes taking them on holiday."

Dot Creighton RVN, Registered Veterinary Nurse, Millennium Veterinary Practice, Braintree

www.millenniumvets.co.uk


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