The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has released new statistics showing that during last year’s record-breaking heatwave, where temperatures soared to in excess of 40 degrees Celsius, vets saw fewer cases of heat-related conditions in pets, such as heatstroke, burnt paw pads, sunburn and breathing difficulties, than the summer of 2018, which was by comparison significantly cooler.
Responding to BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, vets pinpointed the extensive media coverage and a red extreme heat warning issued in 2022, but not in 2018, as a key factor in generating higher awareness of the dangers and appropriate preventative action being taken among owners to protect their pets.
In 2022, half (51%) of all vets in the UK saw cases of animals requiring treatment for heat-related conditions compared with 66% in 2018. In both surveys, dogs were the most common type of animal seen with heat-related conditions, seen by 51% of small animal vets in 2022, followed by rabbits (9%) and cats (6%).
As the weather begins to warm up, BVA is urging owners to start taking extra precautions now, during these seemingly cooler months, to keep pets safe from heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses.
The advice comes as vets fear that owners may have their guard down in these deceptively milder days, which, at times, can be as risky for dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets as during peak summer months, as the same precautions aren’t being taken.
BVA junior vice president Anna Judson said: “These new figures are a stark warning to pet owners not to be caught off guard by the seemingly cooler months of late spring and early summer.
“We might not be in the midst of a record-breaking heatwave, however, when the sun comes out from behind the clouds, cars, caravans and spaces like conservatories can quickly heat up and pets are at risk of overheating.”