With the Yorkshire weather throwing us recent storms, and unseasonal cold weather, it doesn’t feel much like summer and yet, if the forecasters are to be believed, we are just on the brink of a break in the weather with some predictions of a heatwave being round the corner.
In advance of the weather change, a survey just out shows that more than one in three small/mixed practice vets had seen cases of heat stroke and other conditions relating to hot weather, including respiratory problems and worsening of conditions affecting the heart or lungs, fly strike, heat stress, heat exhaustion, collapse and lethargy. Affected animals include cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Every summer, dogs still die from heatstroke as a result of over-exertion on walks and daytrips – this can be a particular problem in short nosed dogs, overweight and older animals.
As it gets hotter this summer, all owners need to think about taking simple steps to ensure their pets are happy and healthy during the warm weather. Most people know that dogs should never be left in cars by themselves, even when the day is warm as opposed to hot, but it can be tempting to ignore advice if you think you won’t be gone for long. Leaving the car windows open and a bowl of water is not enough. As a dog can only cool down through its tongue and paw pads, it cannot react quickly enough to cope with the rapidly rising heat inside a car.
Signs that animals are overheating can include faster and heavier panting, and restlessness, which may include lack of coordination. They might produce more saliva than normal and have darker coloured gums than normal. Eventually their eyes may become glassy and they may start to become unresponsive and may slip into unconsciousness.
Pet owners should immediately get advice from a vet if they are concerned their pet is suffering from a heat-related condition. In addition, if heatstroke is suspected, pets should be taken to a cool, well-ventilated place and given water to drink. Dogs can also be cooled down with a fan or by covering them with a wet towel. However, pet owners should always contact a vet for advice rather than trying to treat on their own an animal who could be suffering from a heat-related condition.