12 January 2017

AS the summer heat hits Queensland, UQ School of Veterinary Science staff are warning pet owners to ensure they keep their furry friends cool.

Head of Emergency and Critical Service at UQ VETS Small Animal Hospital Dr Mark Haworth said pet owners need to be aware of the risks overheating and heat stress pose for dogs.

“Heat stroke is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention, but cooling is the key so you should hose your dogs for 10 to 15 minutes before taking them to the vet,” he said.

“Heat stroke can affect a dog’s brain, bone marrow, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, and symptoms can include heavy panting, staggering, seizures, diarrhoea, vomiting, collapse or coma.

“Dogs most at risk are overweight, older, have a darker coloured coat, or have pushed-in faces like bulldogs and pugs.

“These breeds are known as brachycephalic (flat-faced) and they are more likely to have airway obstruction issues, leading to snoring and snorting.

“Unlike humans who sweat, dogs will pant to try to keep cool on hot days, and if they are a breed whose breathing is already obstructed they are at risk.

“Their quality of life can be greatly improved by talking to your vet to determine if surgery is required to improve their breathing.”

Dr Haworth said people should not leave pets unattended in vehicles even with the windows down, should avoid leaving them outside without access to shade or water, should not exercise them in the middle of the day, and sometimes avoid exercising them early in the evening on very hot days.

“Keep a close eye on your animals and keep them hydrated during hot summer days - many pet owners even use a plastic kiddy pool to cool them down,” he said.

The UQ VETS Small Animal Hospital general practice at Gatton is open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday. The telephone number is 07 5460 1788.

Media: Dr Mark Haworth, m.haworth@uq.edu.au or 07 5460 1788.