The RSPCA is warning all dog owners to take extra care of their dogs during spells of hot weather this summer.
Dogs die every year due to heat exhaustion and heatstroke- often as a result of being left in hot cars or without an ample supply of fresh water.
Heatstroke can be fatal for dogs and certain dogs can be more prone to the condition than others.
Dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs and are all more susceptible to heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a result of dogs being unable to control their body temperature. Signs to look out for are:
- heavy panting
- profuse salivation
- a rapid pulse
- very red gums/tongue
- lack of coordination
- reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
- loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances
If your dog is showing symptoms of heatstroke then you need to treat it as an emergency and call your vet.
There are some initial steps you can take to help cool the dog down:
- Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of a fan.
- Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.
- Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.
Once your dog is cooled down, you must take them to the nearest vet immediately.
Prevention is always better than cure- so follow these tips to allow your dog to enjoy the warm weather without endangering their life:
- Your dog should always be able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if he/she is feeling hot.
- Never leave your dog alone in a car. If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, make sure that your destination is dog-friendly
- If you have to leave your dog outside, you must provide a cool shady spot where he/she can escape from the sun at all times of the day.
- Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over. Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent small amounts.
- Never leave your dog in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it is cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.
- Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excess hair.Give long-coated breeds a haircut at the start of the summer, and later in the season, if necessary.
- Dogs need exercise - even when it is hot. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.
- Dogs can get sunburned too – particularly those with light-coloured noses or light-coloured fur on their ears. Ask your vet for advice on pet-safe sunscreen.