“Silent Killer”: Walking dogs in hot weather as ‘deadly as a hot car’.

With temperatures set to reach around 29 degrees today, and throughout the rest of the week, it is important to understand the dangers when it comes to our pets.

Always remember, ‘If in doubt, don’t go out’. We have joined forces with other animal welfare charities to spread the message penned, ‘dogs die in hot cars’, with the additional warning that exercising dogs on hot days can be fatal for the nation’s pets.

The warning comes after last year’s record-breaking heat, where temperatures reached 40.3°c in some parts of the country. Following these soaring temperatures, we have come together along with veterinary organisations, to extend this campaign and warn pet owners about the dangers that hot walks pose to dogs.

For many years, we have continued to highlight that ‘dogs die in hot cars’, with the message that ‘not long is too long’, it is vital that people understand to never leave their pets inside a car on a warm day. If you ever witness a dog in distress, call 999 immediately.

The extension of this campaign aims to look at what has been dubbed the ‘silent killer’, taking pets outdoors in hot spells. Many people still inadvertently put their dogs at serious risk by taking them out for a walk, a day out to the beach or the park, during the heat. Therefore, it is imperative all pet owners learn the signs of heatstroke in dogs, so they can seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

British Veterinary Association junior vice president Anna Judson said: “Every year, vets see many cases of dogs requiring treatment for heat-related conditions, many of which are a result of being walked or exercised during the hottest parts of the day. It’s important that owners don’t let their guard down even when official warnings aren’t in place.

We would like to see it become the norm that dog owners always err on the side of caution when it comes to hot weather, and instead, walk their pets in the early morning or late dusk when temperatures are cooler.

If every pet owner can arm themselves with the knowledge to detect the early signs of heatstroke, as well as get into the habit of appropriately leaving their dogs at home in a cool, well-ventilated space at the first sign of hot weather, we really believe many animals’ lives will be saved. Our message is simple - if in doubt, don’t go out.”

Signs of mild 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.

Progressing to more severe illness if untreated:

● Diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

● Seizures.

● Bleeding under the skin.

● Collapsed and unresponsive.

What should I do if I spot these signs?

● Stop them from exercising immediately.

● Move them into the shade.

● Give them small amounts of cool (not ice cold) water to drink.

● Wet the dog thoroughly by immersion (avoid the dog’s head going under water) and/or pour the water over them and ensure air movement (use a fan or air conditioning) to dry them. The water just needs to be colder than the dog to be effective.

● Call your vet for advice immediately but ensure you cool the dog while waiting to take them for veterinary care.

Can you help us to spread the message far and wide? Make sure to post your selfies of taking your dog for a walk first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, using the hashtags #DogsAtDawn and #DogsAtDusk.