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Only 50% of dogs with heat stroke will survive

As the UK prepares for a heatwave this weekend, emergency vets have issued a plea to the nation’s dog owners to avoid exercising their pets during the hottest part of the day, warning the average survival rate of a dog diagnosed with heat stroke is only 50%

Vets Now, the UK’s leading provider of pet emergency veterinary care, sees one of its busiest times when the weather warms up, including a big increase in heat stroke admissions over the summer months.

Heat stroke is a major factor to consider when out and about in the heat and sunshine with your dog, and it only takes a 2°C increase in body temperature for heat stroke to kick in.

The illness occurs when dogs are no longer able to self-regulate and keep their temperature down, according to Vets Now, which has 59 emergency out-of-hours clinics and three 24/7 pet emergency hospitals across the UK.

Vets Now have also launched a video vet consultation service during lockdown which allows worried pet owners to speak to a qualified vet on their mobile, tablet, or laptop from the comfort of their own home or when they’re out and about.

Dr. Laura Playforth, professional standards director at Vets Now, said, “There are two types of heat stroke — exertional and non-exertional. The first occurs during exercise and is much more common on hot sunny days when dogs haven’t had a chance to acclimatise to the sudden rise in heat. The second type is when a dog is exposed to a notable rise in temperature but doesn’t have access to the ventilation, or drinking water, to keep themselves cool. This typically occurs in a parked car, a garden with no shade, or a very hot room. All dogs can overheat if left without water or in hot conditions for too long. So on hot summer days, it’s best to walk your dog in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

“And ensure drinking water and a cool, shaded spot is always available. It’s a good idea to clip hair if you have a longer-haired breed. Remember to never leave your dog in a hot car or a warm room.”


Here are the warning signs to look out for:

  • Faster, heavier panting
  • Barking, whining or signs of agitation
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Dark-coloured (red or purple) gums or tongue
  • Glassy eyes
  • An elevated body temperature of 40C (104F) and up
  • Staggering, weakness or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

With bright, sunny days luring people and their pets out into the great outdoors, the expert team of vets and vet nurses at clinics across the UK also see more road traffic accidents, catfights, dog bites and allergic reactions over the summer.

Laura added, “We naturally venture into the great outdoors more frequently during summer, and we’re doing that more and more this year due to lockdown restrictions. However, heat isn’t the only problem pets have to deal with over the summer months. From salt ingestion at the beach to toxic slug and snail pellets and parasites, there are a number of hazards that should be considered.

“Pet owners should have a plan in place for a pet emergency, especially for times when their local vet is closed at night or over weekends and bank holidays. We’ve also done a lot of work during lockdown to ensure veterinary advice available to owners without them having to leave their pets’ side – such as our online veterinary consultation service and smart speaker skills.”

The UK’s 12 million pet owners will now be able to get veterinary advice through their smart speakers for the first time.

A new voice assistant available through Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home has been created to give out information on the steps if a pet owner thinks their animal is unwell.

The system has been developed by Vets Now as part of a drive during the coronavirus crisis to make advice available without forcing owners to leave home or their pet’s side.

If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, contact your vet as soon as possible, or find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.