A study, published yesterday, in the journal Animals warns dog owners to be aware of canine heatstroke which has been highlighted due to the more frequent heat waves that the UK enjoys or suffers from, which in turn is arguably due to global warming.
Perhaps the first point to make is that a co-author and senior lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College, Dan O’Neill, advises that people stop buying flat-faced dog breeds. There’s lots of talk about these round headed breeds because they are particularly popular but their flat faces can cause breathlessness and in the bulldog there is a genetic mutation which exaggerates this health issue. In addition, Dan O’Neill says that these breeds have a propensity to suffer during hot weather.
During a heatwave, it is advised that dog owners do not take their dog for a walk at midday. Comment: I would argue that that could extend to well into the afternoon. Too much exercise can cause canine heatstroke. Dogs such as the golden retriever must avoid heat, it is argued.
The researchers found that nearly 3/4 of cases of heatstroke were due to overexertion. And one veterinarian said that walking a dog in hot weather might be as deadly as leaving your dog in a hot car.
The study analysed the medical records of more than 900,000 dogs. They found that more than 1,200 had suffered from heatstroke and received veterinary care. Of these, they found that 74% had suffered heatstroke due to overexertion which was classified as going for a walk in the heat.
In 13% of the cases hot weather alone was responsible for heatstroke. Keeping dogs in hot cars and hot buildings also accounted for cases. Approximately 14% of dogs suffering from heatstroke died. The world is getting hotter said Emily Hall a veterinary surgeon and researcher who was part of the team at Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.
The study effectively extends the issue of dogs becoming overheated from those kept in hot cars, which is an obvious situation, to the less obvious circumstances of taking your dog for a walk in hot weather. The researchers say that this can be just as deadly.
They also found that young dogs and male dogs were more likely to develop heatstroke after exerting themselves. Specific breeds such as bulldogs, greyhounds, French bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Staffordshire bull terriers and Chow Chows are predisposed to overheating. Simply by sitting out in the sun pugs and flat-faced dogs can get heatstroke.
The researchers suspect that the number of dogs getting heatstroke may be much larger than is recorded by veterinary clinics. Signs of heatstroke in dogs include confusion, unsteadiness and red or dark gums and tongue.