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Heatstroke cases set to rise, researchers warn

Cases of heatstroke in dogs will continue to increase as temperatures rise due to climate change, new research reveals.

A team at Nottingham Trent University, which analysed data relating to small animals seen by UK vets over a five-year period, found that dogs were most affected by heatstroke, with 146 cases. Three-quarters of cases were attributed to the dogs being exercised, while 7% were due to being confined to a vehicle, the study shows. The researchers found that brachycephalic dog breeds – those with flat faces – were particularly at risk, making up a fifth of cases.

As expected, cases were most common during the summer months, with cases in dogs spanning between April and October.

In addition, the researchers found that the most common symptoms included abnormal breathing, lethargy, collapsing, and gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea.

The researchers – based in the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences – warn that cases will continue to rise as we face warmer weather due to climate change.

Researcher and veterinarian, Emily Hall, said: “Heat-related illness can affect all pets and is likely to become more common as global temperatures rise.”

She added: “Our findings highlight the need for better public awareness of heatstroke and the risk to all animals.”

Nottingham Trent University researcher, Dr Anne Carter, said: “There is a misconception that heatstroke in pets only relates to dogs in hot cars and we need to do more to raise awareness of risk factors not only for dogs but in the wider pet population.”

The study, which also involved the University of Liverpool, is published in The Open Veterinary Journal.

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