An animal organisation is urgently warning dog owners to be vigilant and wary this week as UK health officials issue a heat health alert for every region of England.
With temperatures set to soar to a sweltering 36C, international charity PETA has released an emergency alert to carers of brachycephalic breeds – including pugs, bulldogs and boxers – as these dogs are most susceptible to overheating.
Veterinarians report that one in seven dogs in the UK die from conditions relating to the heat, and breathing-impaired breeds are twice as likely to suffer from heatstroke.
Flat-faced breeds like pugs have been bred for a particular look, resulting in drastically shortened airways that make it hard for them to breathe and stay safe in the heat.
PETA warns that people often mistake their rasping, shortness of breath and panting as normal – but these are signs of distress and the hot weather can lead to fatalities.
Dogs Trust has offered top tips to pet parents for keeping canines safe and happy in the sun.
Vet Paula Boyden says: “There are so many things we can do to make sure our dogs stay happy and healthy in hot weather, but it is crucial we keep a close eye on them, even if playing indoors.
“If you do need to head out in the car with your dog, please be very careful. As little as twenty minutes can prove fatal if a dog is left alone in a car on a warm day.
“Many people still believe it’s OK if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s not and we strongly advise that dog owners never leave their dog in a car on a warm day, even if it feels cool outside.
“Severe heatstroke can cause multiple seizures, complete loss of consciousness, loss of coordination, confusion and vomiting and diarrhoea with blood. If untreated it can prove fatal.”
Dogs Trust shares the following tips for keeping canine companions cool – indoors as well as outdoors – to prevent them from overheating as the days get hotter.
Avoid walking or doing activities either indoors or outdoors with your dog at the hottest times of the day, so early morning or later in the evening is often best.
Always take plenty of water with you when out with your dog and make sure they have access to fresh water at home at all times.
Tarmac can get very hot in the sun – check it with your hand before letting your dog walk on it so they don’t burn their paws. Try the ‘five-second test’ – if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
If you cannot avoid taking your dog out in the car on a hot day, even if travelling a short distance, avoid travelling during the hottest times of the day.
Never leave your dog in a vehicle on a warm day. Not even with the window open.
Use a cooling mat or wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel for your pet to lie on if they wish.
Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.
Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.
Know the early signs of heatstroke which include panting, difficulty breathing, tiredness, less keen to play, drooling and vomiting, and take immediate action.
If your dog has collapsed or is struggling to breathe, call your nearest vet immediately as they can advise if your dog is suffering from heatstroke or another condition.