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Vets issue urgent heat stroke warning

Vets have issued an urgent heatstroke warning after saving a dog who collapsed during a walk.

With temperatures set to soar today, vet charity PDSA fears more pets could face danger as families enjoy the summer weather. Vets say animals left inside a hot car will be in distress and can even die in as little as 20 minutes.

In a recent case American Bulldog, Bud, from Liverpool, almost died after collapsing with heatstroke. The four-year-old pet had been out with his owner Emma Charlton, from Wavertree, Liverpool, for just ten minutes when he started struggling to breathe.

Despite cutting short their walk, Bud collapsed just yards from the front door and was rushed straight to PDSA’s Huyton Pet Hospital in the city.

Vets immediately tried to control Bud’s soaring body temperature by wrapping him in wet towels before administering IV fluids to treat shock.

PDSA vet, Steven Goldie, said: “Bud’s temperature was critically high when he was brought in. We knew we had to act quickly to have any chance of saving him.

“We used water and wet towels to cool Bud and placed him on a drip to get fluids inside him.

“Despite our initial fears, Bud pulled through. He’s one of the lucky ones, many pets sadly don’t survive heatstroke.”

Bud’s owner, Emma, said she was incredibly grateful to PDSA for saving her pet’s life.

“I was in total shock as I’d never heard of dogs suffering from heatstroke before,” she said. “It was a warm day but muggy rather than blazing sunshine.

“I was so frightened when the vets told me he might not make it. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.

“I’m now much more careful about when I take Bud for a walk when it’s hot and want to warn others of the dangers.”

PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said heatstroke was a huge risk for pets.

“Heatstroke can start without warning and has devastating consequences for our four-legged friends. Dogs can’t control their body temperature the way we can. The only way they can try to cool down is through panting and sweat glands in their paws. Through our pet wellbeing champions, funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re educating owners about the dangers.

“One of the most common causes of heatstroke or hyperthermia is dogs that have been left in hot cars. But leaving pets out in the garden for too long without shade or taking them for a walk at the hottest part of the day can be very dangerous too.”

Heatstroke advice, causes and symptoms

  • Never leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans even for a short time. Even on a cloudy day with the windows open, the temperature can soar dangerously high in just a few minutes, which can cause fatal heatstroke.
  • Try not to exercise pets during the hottest hours of the day. Instead, go out early in the morning or in the evening. Keep strenuous exercise to a minimum and give them access to cool, indoor areas.
  • Owners of flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs should be particularly vigilant. These dogs often have restricted airways due to their flat-face and don’t tolerate heat well. They can show signs of hyperthermia even during a mild increase in temperature and humidity.
  • A dog wearing a muzzle will be at high risk because they can’t control their body temperature adequately by panting.
  • Stressed, over-excited or over-exercised dogs can be at risk even if the temperature and humidity is not excessive, particularly if they are in a poorly ventilated environment.
  • Dogs often don’t show any warning signs of heatstroke. As the body temperature rises they can pant and drool excessively, become lethargic, drowsy and uncoordinated, and in a short time can collapse, become unconscious, and if not treated as an emergency, it can prove fatal.

What to do if you suspect a pet has heatstroke

For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.

  • Move your dog to a shaded/cool area.
  • Immediately pour small amounts of room temperature (not cold) water onto your dog’s body to avoid shock.  If possible, you can also wrap your dog in wet towels or place your dog in the breeze of a fan.
  • Allow your dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto your dog until their breathing starts to settle but never so much that they begin to shiver.

Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet immediately, even if they seem to have made a full recovery.

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