Pet heatstroke cases rising as climate changes
Data from veterinary practices helped inform a study that has found pet owners may have to review their animal’s housing to prevent them from getting heatstroke.
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) looked at five years’ worth of data from a network of UK vets.
It found dogs accounted for most heatstroke cases but cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets were also affected.
Researchers said cases were likely to continue to rise as we face warmer weather due to climate change.
Data for the study was obtained from veterinary practices participating in the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network.
The team in Nottingham found there had been 146 cases of heatstroke in dogs, with flat-faced brachycephalic breeds particularly at risk.
The data also showed 16 cats were also seen for heatstroke along with eight guinea pigs, three rabbits and a pet ferret.
Dr Anne Carter, a researcher at NTU, said: “There is a misconception that heatstroke in pets only relates to dogs in hot cars.
“We need to do more to raise awareness of risk factors not only for dogs but in the wider pet population.
“Owners of small animals such as rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs may need to review their pet’s housing and take steps to keep their pets cool in the warmer months.”
Researchers said the overall figures for heatstroke would be far greater, claiming many cases go unrecognised by owners.
The most commons symptoms in all the animals were abnormal breathing, lethargy, collapsing, and gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea.
Researcher and veterinarian Emily Hall said: “Heat-related illness can affect all pets and is likely to become more common as global temperatures rise.”