As temperatures continue to rise throughout the UK, the Met Office predicts hot, and even very hot, temperatures across parts of England and Wales. Overheating in dogs is a dangerous situation that can prove fatal, so as pet parents it’s important to be aware of the signs your dog may be overheating and know what to do to help them.
Robin Hargreaves, Senior Veterinary Advisor at Agria Pet Insurance, advises…
Most of us are very familiar with the fact that dogs can die in hot cars. However, often overheating or hyperthermia frequently happens at home and can prove fatal. As many of us are spending more time at home, enjoying the sunny weather, our four-legged friends are also outside with us so it is essential we make sure they stay cool and safe.
The Five Warning Signs
Any excessive panting is your first warning that your dog is overheating. So, if you see this, don’t wait for any more symptoms – get them cooled down immediately. Once overheating has developed, dogs may:
- Become restless and show discomfort
- Vomit or have diarrhoea
- Drool excessively
- Have an increased heart rate
- Lose coordination, have seizures or muscle tremors
These symptoms are considered a veterinary emergency, so if you think your dog is overheating it’s important to remove them from the source of the heat and reduce their temperature by laying a towel on them and pouring cool – not cold – water over it. As dogs are unable to cool down by sweating, we can create the effects of sweating for them by simply using a wet tea towel or towel.
Unless there is a rapid return to normal breathing, put your dog into a well-ventilated, pre-cooled car and take them to the vet immediately. Dogs that are seriously overheating may need to receive oxygen, fluids or other treatment, so it’s vital that they get the care that they need as soon as possible.
Overheating Happens Faster You Think
Putting a dog in a hot car to set off for a journey, even if you leave immediately, is dangerous. Higher-risk dogs with small nostrils, are overweight, have circulatory problems, are elderly or are vulnerable in any other way can reach the point of heatstroke before the car has cooled down. So, on very hot days, ensure the car is cool before putting your dog inside.
Lying in a hot place and over-exercising in high temperatures can also rapidly lead to heatstroke. Don’t assume that because your dog is happy to join you on a walk in the heat that they are fine. Heatstroke can develop quickly and if this happens on a walk, with no access to fast cooling, it can become a serious situation in a very short time.
Obesity, poor circulation and respiratory function are all risk-factors for overheating. Older dogs will often fall into this category, along with those brachycephalic breeds with flat faces, and small nostrils, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs.
These dogs’ bodies are less able to cope with extremes of temperature and so are vulnerable to overheating. It’s important to be aware of seemingly harmless situations that could quickly cause them to overheat, such as sitting by a sunny window, in a warm conservatory and travelling in a warm car.