The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recently got an urgent call about a healthy five-year-old dog. The temperatures were hitting record highs and 729 calls came in that day alone. They then received devastating news:

“This morning we were informed a local dog died of heat stroke after being taken on a walk at 9 am when the temperature was 21 degrees (Celsius),” the RSPCA Altrincham Cheshire Branch said in a statement.

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For five days straight, temperatures soared past 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit). In direct sun and with humidity, the heat index soared even higher.

Despite numerous warnings by the RSPCA, dog owners were still seen walking their dogs during the hottest times of the day.

“The dog was otherwise fit and healthy. Despite lots of warnings about the heat we still see dogs being walked to the shops, on the school run, or as soon as owners get in from work,” the RSPCA said.

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“Yesterday the highest temperature for the day was at 4 pm but this is when most of the dogs we spotted were out and about. It does not matter if your dog is white, young, not a bull breed or ‘used to the heat’. Please be mindful of its needs.”

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Heat stroke can have devastating consequences. If temperatures rise too high and your pet cannot cool himself down, the results can be catastrophic.

Signs of Heatstroke:

  • excessive panting
  • staggering while walking
  • seizures
  • high body temperature
  • a dark or bright red tongue
  • sticky or dry gums
  • bloody diarrhea
  • vomiting

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.

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Try to bring your dog’s temperature down slowly with cool, NOT COLD, water. Give them some water to drink and watch their breathing closely.

“We do understand the crucial nature of walking your dog, however, please bear in mind that walking in high temperatures can cause serious and irreversible damage, and in some cases death,” the RSPCA said.

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Taking your dogs for walks is an important part of their routine, however, there are essential things to keep in mind during warmer months.

Besides suffering from heatstroke, dogs can also sunburn. Dogs light in color are at an increased risk. White dogs especially!

Check out, Rory! A staff writer’s rescue pup 🙂 With her white fur and pink skin, she’s at an increased risk for sunburn. In fact, she will burn after only 10 minutes in the sun! And boy is it painful!

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To avoid sunburn, your dog should not be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. You can also look into sunscreen made just for pets. Check out Epi-Pet skin treatment!

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When applying sunscreen, be sure to get your dogs ears, nose and back, as well as the skin around his mouth.

You should also be careful with your dog’s paws in warmer months. You can check out our article on the 11-second paw test here!

Our rule of thumb is: If you walk outside and it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog as well!

If routine walks are the only way for your pooch to relieve himself then consider walking him in grassy, shaded areas when the sun isn’t so strong (during early morning hours and late in the evening when the sun has set).

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Quicker walks are also recommended. If your dog can relieve himself within a few minutes, then it’s time to turn around and go home. Try exercising your pup indoors. Fido will LOVE playing a game of fetch in the soothing airconditioning.

Most importantly, look for the signs of your dog in distress. Your dog has his own way of telling you when he’s not feeling well. Pay close attention!

Check out the video below to learn more about the warning signs of heatstroke.