Heatstroke in Dogs UPDATED

What are the risk factors of HEATSTROKE in your dog UPDATED?

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DOGS LEFT IN HOT CARS — ARE NOT THE ONLY DOGS IN DANGER…

IMPORTANT, BEFORE YOU READ THE ARTICLE – this new research highlights the importance of all factors, including dogs left in hot cars. Public campaigns warning dog owners about the danger of heat stroke in dogs in hot weather have tended to focus on leaving dogs in hot cars. What this new research reveals are the numbers of dogs that suffer from heat stroke NOT related to being left in hot cars. We have not had this data laid bare so clearly before, so it’s new. Ideally the public campaigns need to take these ‘hidden’ dogs into account too.

…BUT OF COURSE THE ADVICE REMAINS – NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG SHUT IN A HOT CAR!

In a previous blog (see FIRST REPORT below), I reported on the risk factors for heat stroke in dogs – compiled from nearly 1 million canine clinical records collected by the UK VETCOMPASS surveillance system.

SECOND REPORT: RISK FACTORS FOR HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

The same team, consisting of vets and researchers from Nottingham University and the Royal Veterinary College in London, have extracted some further insights from the data they collected, which is vitally important for dog owners everywhere.

Here are the relevant facts –

Stories of dogs being left to suffer in hot cars while their owners go off shopping make sensational headlines. But the VETSTREAM data gives a different story. Of all the dogs treated by vets in the UK for potentially fatal heatstroke in the UK, just 13% were linked to a hot spell. And of those dogs, only 5% were the result of being left in a hot car.

So, that means that 20% of all dogs treated by vets in the UK for potentially fatal heatstroke were attributed to hot weather. What about the other 80%?

Here is a table of the risk factors identified for ALL dogs, ranked from most risk to least risk –

  • 74% – ANY WEATHER = exercise, dogs walking, running playing etc.
  • 68% – HOT WEATHER = of the 74% above, dogs just going for a walk.
  • 13% – HOT WEATHER = all dogs in cars, travelling or left in parked cars.
  • 5% – HOT WEATHER = of the 13% above, dogs left in cars.
  • OTHER: ANY WEATHER = dogs confined at the groomers, the vets, in a room, etc.

The overall mortality rate for all causes of heatstroke was 14.2%.

What the data tells us

The most important take-home messages are these –

  1. Exercise-induced potentially fatal heatstroke in dogs is a much greater risk factor than anything else.
  2. Of course, BREED MATTERS too.
  3. Most at-risk dogs identified included Springer Spaniels, Staffordshire Bull Terriers (arguably because they are a common bull breed in UK), Chows, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR SUSPECT YOUR DOG IS SUFFERING FROM HEAT STROKE

1. Know the early signs – an out-of-character slowing down of your dog. DO NOT ignore this, especially on a warm day.

2. Call your vet immediately if you have any concerns.

3. In the meantime – COOL YOUR DOG DOWN.

This is really important if you can’t get to your vets quickly –

  • A delay of 60 to 90 minutes increases the risk of death significantly. Your vet will advice you what to do here.
  • If your vet is unavailable, then cool your dog down with whatever you have available (wet towels, immersion in water).
  • If your dog is elderly, be cautious with this. Getting your dog’s core temperature down within 30 to 60 minutes is the critical factor here.
  • This is because hyperthermia will cause disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which as the name implies, means that your dog’s blood starts clotting throughout the cardiovascular system.
  • When this happens there is no return, it is fatal.

KEEP SAFE – and exercise your dog responsibly in warm weather.

REMEMBER

  • Dogs can’t sweat like we can. Dog have very few sweat glands, and those that they do have are localised on the feet and within the nasal passages.
  • Dogs loose over 70% of their excess body heat by convection and radiation, primarily by panting and evaporation of water, and a little through the skin and coat. This works fine most of the time.
  • But problems can arise when the environmental temperature gets close to body temperature, or above.
  • To increase the rate of heat loss, dogs will salivate more and pant, and the blood flow will also increase in the mucous membranes of the nasal passages.
  •  But if they are also generating more body heat for the reasons described above, then their normal thermoregulatory mechanisms may be overwhelmed and trigger the progression towards DIC and then death.

 

FIRST REPORT: RISK FACTORS FOR HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

Another fabulous report from the UK’s VetCompass Knowledge Hub, which collects, and analyses veterinary clinical information from millions of animals all over the country.

This one on heatstroke reviews nearly 1 million canine clinical records and gives us some useful information on the risks of heatstroke –

Here are the key points in a nutshell

  • Weight above 50kg, regardless of normal body weight-for-breed, compared to dogs weighing less than 10kg = 3.5x.
  • Brachycephalic dogs = 2x.
  • Dogs older than 12 years = 1.7x.
  • Dogs aged 6 – 8 years = 1.5x.
  • Weight at or above that for breed, compared to below that for breed = 1.4x.
  • Overall fatality for all dogs treated for heat stroke = 14%.

 

You’re welcome! 🙈 🙉 🙊

 

© copyright Robert Falconer-Taylor, 2020

This article is an original work and is subject to copyright. You may create a link to this article on another website or in a document back to this web page. You may not copy this article in whole or in part onto another web page or document without permission of the author. Email enquiries to robertft@emotions-r-us.com.

References

Dogs Don’t Die Just in Hot Cars—Exertional Heat-Related Illness (Heatstroke) Is a Greater Threat to UK Dogs
Emily J. Hall, Anne J. Carter & Dan G. O’Neill

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/8/1324

 

Incidence and risk factors for heat-related illness (heatstroke) in UK dogs under primary veterinary care in 2016
Emily J. Hall, Anne J. Carter & Dan G. O’Neill
Published: June 22, 2020

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-66015-8