As red and amber extreme heat warnings are announced across the UK, the British Veterinary Association has issued urgent advice on keeping pets safe from heat-related illnesses.
With extreme heat warnings in place across the UK, the BVA is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to keep their animals safe in hot weather. The advice follows concerns that cases of heat-related illness seen by vets this year could rival the significant numbers seen during the record-breaking summer of 2018, when almost two-thirds of vets reported treating animals affected by the hot weather.
BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey in 2018 found that half of the vets had treated animals for heat stroke (51%) while more than one in three (36%) had seen animals requiring treatment for other conditions relating to hot weather, like breathing difficulties, heart conditions, burnt paw pads and sunburn.
Compared to 2015, the average number of cases of heatstroke and other heat-related conditions seen per vet that year had doubled and trebled, respectively.
Dogs may particularly struggle to stay cool in high temperatures and humid conditions since, unlike humans, they are unable to cool down quickly through sweating, making them vulnerable to overheating.
Like dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs cannot sweat or pant to regulate their body temperature and cool down, which is why it’s important that their hutch or run isn’t exposed to direct sunlight at any time of the day.
BVA president Justine Shotton said: “While most of us look forward to warmer weather, our pets can suffer in high temperatures and humid conditions. Each year, vets across the country report seeing large numbers of cases involving pets who require treatment for heat-related conditions, and this saw a noticeable jump during the record-breaking heat of 2018.
“Vets know that dogs in particular won’t stop enjoying themselves and exercising because it is hot, so it’s up to owners to do all they can to prevent overheating happening in this heatwave. This includes making sure pets aren’t walked or exercised in the middle of a hot day or left inside a hot car or conservatory for even a little while, as ‘not long’ can prove fatal.”