We are in the middle of some of the hottest weather we have seen for years, so it's a good time to look at how the heat affects dogs.
Owners should know how to avoid heatstroke and whether your pet insurance can cover it.
What is pet heatstroke?
If dogs get too hot and are unable to reduce their body temperature they will develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.
One of the main ways dogs keep cool is by taking in cooler air through panting but when the air gets too hot, they can't lower their body temperature enough.
At a certain temperature, dogs can suffer extreme symptoms and some organs will start to fail. In the worst cases, heatstroke can damage the heart, brain, kidneys and liver.
Younger and older dogs are at a higher risk of developing heatstroke. Some medication can make a dog more susceptible to heatstroke.
Dogs that have flat faces and thicker coats are also at a higher risk of heatstroke.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in a dog?
- Panting heavily
- Drooling excessively
- Drowsiness or uncoordination
How can I avoid heatstroke in my dog?
- Keep your house cool
- Have a fan or air conditioning system running
- Cool mats or cool jackets can be helpful
- NEVER leave your dog in a hot car or conservatory
- Paddling pools in the garden can be a great source of fun, and brilliant to keep them cool
- A frozen bottle of water can be nice for them to lie near
- Avoid walking your dog in the intense heat, not only are they at risk of heatstroke, they can also burn their paws on the hot pavements
Remember, if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them.
If my dog does develop heatstroke, what should I do?
- Move them to a shaded/cool area immediately
- Immediately douse the dog with cool (not cold) water – if you reduce their temperature too quickly this can cause further problems.
- Have your dog drink small amounts of cool (not cold) water
- Continue to douse the dog with cool water until its breathing returns to normal
- Once your dog's breathing has returned to normal, take it to the vet as a matter of urgency
Can I make a claim on my pet insurance for heatstroke?
Many providers will cover you for vet fees associated with heatstroke, but you will need to be able to show you have taken due care and attention with your dog's health. For example our terms and conditions are as follows:
- We are not able to pay if you deliberately put your pet at risk, or neglect your pet’s safety
- We are not able to pay for claims if you deliberately harm or neglect your pet
If your dog was left in a hot car on a hot day, your insurer could consider this neglect and decline your claim.
It is not illegal to leave your dog in a car, but leaving it in a hot car is deemed animal neglect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
A recent case of a dog suffering heat stroke came under our attention. The dog was cooled too quickly and the treatment cost the owners over £1,000.
Heatstroke is a preventable condition - there is a lot you can do to ensure your dog's health through the hottest days of the summer.
If your dog does suffer heatstroke, seek immediate veterinary help.