Vet warning for pets as summer heat returns

07 July 2017

Dogs may particularly struggle to stay cool in the summer as, unlike humans, they are unable to cool down quickly through sweating

As temperatures rise after a brief respite, pet owners are being warned to take extra care of their pets in the hot weather after almost half of UK vets reported animals being affected by heat-related conditions last summer, according to new figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Dogs may particularly struggle to stay cool in these high temperatures and humid conditions since, unlike humans, they are unable to cool down quickly through sweating, rendering them vulnerable to overheating. Brachycephalic breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs are even more at risk, as their short noses can make breathing properly difficult, and therefore cooling down much harder.

According to BVA's Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which polled over 1,000 vets across the UK, significantly more vets reported treating animals for heat-related conditions last summer compared to 2015. 50% of companion animal vets had seen an average of five cases of dogs requiring treatment – with one in four vets seeing as many as eight cases of animals in need of treatment for heat-related conditions over the course of the summer.

British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“With hot weather looking set to stay for a while, we're advising pet owners to take some simple steps to ensure that their furry friends stay happy and healthy this summer. Even temperatures in the mid-teens can prove uncomfortable for animals, especially if they are kept in direct sunlight without any shade.

“As a dog owner, I know that dogs in particular won't stop enjoying themselves because it is hot, so it's up to owners to do all we can to prevent overheating happening – and be able to recognise the signs and act quickly if it does.

“If you're concerned about your pet in the hot weather, we'd recommend contacting your local vet immediately.”

BVA and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) are highlighting seven simple steps to help keep dogs and other pets safe as the temperature rises:

  1. Make sure pets always have adequate fresh water to drink.
  2. Provide adequate ventilation at all times.
  3. Avoid exercising dogs in the heat of the day: especially older dogs, brachycephalic breeds or dogs that you know have heart or lung problems.
  4. Provide shade from the sun in the hottest part of the day.
  5. Watch out for early signs of heatstroke, such as heavy panting, restlessness and lack of coordination.
  6. Never leave dogs in vehicles: “Not long” is too long.
  7. Contact a vet immediately if the animal does not respond to efforts to cool it down.

If heatstroke or any other heat-related condition is suspected, dogs should be taken to a cool, well-ventilated place and given water to drink before seeking immediate advice from their local vet.