Dog exercised in midday sun at risk of heat stroke

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 tend to see a big increase in heat stroke admissions when the weather heats up.

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

Laura Playforth, Vets Now professional standards director, said: “We are inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke during hot spells.

“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 during hot spells, 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. Our emergency vets have created a helpful infographic which provides a useful guide as to when is it too hot to walk a dog.

Image of a dog exercising for Vets Now article on walking dogs in hot weather
Emergency vets say dogs should never be exercised in the midday sun during hot spells

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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.

Laura 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.

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.