Scores of dogs admitted with heat stroke after being exercised in hottest part of the day

EMERGENCY vets have issued a plea to dog owners to avoid exercising their pets during the hottest part of the day.

Vets Now clinics up and down the country have seen a massive increase in heat stroke admissions in recent weeks.

Many of the most severe cases have been a result of owners over-exercising their dogs between 8 am and 8 pm when temperatures are at their highest.

The warning comes as Britain experiences its longest heatwave for 20 years.

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Steph Dobbs, a registered veterinary nurse who is clinical resource manager of Vets Now’s contact centre, said: “We have been inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke.

“In many cases, the owners said they’d taken their dogs out in the middle of the day, and that they’d been suffering breathing difficulties ever since.

“This is one of 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 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.

Image of dog exercising in the sun for Vets Now article on heat stroke
Owners should never exercise their dog in the middle of a hot summer's day

What are the sign of heat stroke and how can I prevent it?

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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.

Steph 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.

“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.

Police across Britain have also warned dog owners to leave their pets at home while temperatures remain high.

Officers have reported rescuing distressed dogs from searing hot cars in St Ives, Cornwall and Hornsea, East Yorkshire.

Vets Now handles around 10,000 emergency calls a week.

Our 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.