Heat exhaustion dangers

Walking dogs in hot weather could be as deadly leaving them in a hot car

‘Silent killer’: Walking dogs in hot weather could be ‘as deadly leaving them in a hot car’ Image

We are blessed in Hexham, Stocksfield and Bellingham with beautiful countryside, lovely parks and great dog walks. The animal welfare coalition that coined the iconic ‘dogs die in hot cars’ welfare warning says that exercising dogs on hot days could be equally fatal for the nation’s pets. The warning comes as the UK heads towards summer season and temperatures begin to rise.

A survey by the British Veterinary Association after 2022’s record-breaking summer found that while around 1 in 10 (9%) vets in small animal practice had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being left in a hot car, almost four times as many vets (38%) had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being walked or exercised in hot weather.

In addition, the RSPCA reports the number of visits to its hot weather advice pages saw a 650% increase compared with the previous year.

For many of us, the start of warmer weather means we can spend more time outdoors in the sunshine. However, warm weather also comes with the increased risk to our dogs. Thanks to years of campaigning, public awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars is well understood. However, exercising dogs in hot weather can also present a huge risk to our beloved animals and can be just as deadly. This is why every single dog owner needs to be savvy as we enter summer, and be mindful of potential harm caused to dogs by more strenuous or sustained exercise on warmer days.

All breeds and types of dog are at risk but those with underlying health conditions, especially ones affecting their breathing, and older or elderly dogs can overheat more easily, as well as overweight dogs, dogs with thick or double coats, and some large and flat-faced breeds.

The extension of the campaign to warn that dogs die on hot walks now aims to empower pet owners to learn the signs of heatstroke in dogs so they can seek veterinary help as soon as possible, and the group has already begun to spread its additional key message: ‘If in doubt, don’t go out.’

What are the signs of heat-related illness in dogs? 

  • Excessive panting that doesn’t stop when the dog rests.
  • Difficulty breathing, especially if there is unusual noise or any blue/grey tinge to gums or tongue.
  • Unusual tiredness – becoming tired sooner than normal.
  • Changes in behaviour – lying down more frequently and stumbling.
  • Less keen to play.

What should I do if I spot these signs?

  • Stop the dog from running or playing around
  • Move them into the shade
  • Give them small amounts of cool (not ice cold) water
  • Lay them in room-temperature (not ice cold) water and/or pour it over them
  • Call your vet for advice immediately

Important things to note

  • Always place the back of your hand on concrete for 5 seconds before going for a walk in hot weather. If the ground feels hot or hurts your hand, then it could potentially burn your dogs pad.
  • Do not go jogging with your pet in hot weather.
  • Always provide shade in your garden and never leave dogs in fully exposed sun spots.
  • If you must walk your dog during hot spells, choose very early morning or later in the evening when it is much cooler. It can still be significantly warmer than normal, so restrict too much running if the weather is still warm.

If you suspect your pet is becoming ill due to heatstroke then please call us immediately.