RSPCA shares signs of heatstroke in dogs as it warns walking them in the heat could be a silent killer
Dog owners are being warned to play close attention to a 'silent killer' as temperatures heat up.
The signs and symptoms of heatstroke in dogs are being shared widely by the animal charity, which is appealing to households to leave their pets at home during the heatwave.
During the summer months the animal charity frequently highlights the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars - but it is now keen to remind owners it is possible for dogs to die on hot walks too.
Describing it as a 'silent killer', RSPCA welfare officers say even a short walk may put a dog at risk if temperatures are still at record levels even early in the morning or by late evening, while taking them to places such as fields or beaches in order to avoid hot pavements is often just as risky as these areas have little or no shade.
Burnt pads on a dog's feet is a possibility when out walking and the RSPCA recommends applying the '5 second test' to pavements - so if you can't comfortably keep your palm on the concrete that long then it's an indication that it's also too hot for paws.
And while temperatures remain at record levels, keeping your animal at home may turn out to be the best option suggests the organisation, with any owner concerned about heatstroke advised to seek medical help straight away.
A spokesman explained: "The message remains very simple – never leave a dog in a hot car because ‘not long’ is too long, and when it comes to walks, ‘if in doubt, don’t go out."
The potential signs of heatstroke owners should watch for include:
* Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
* Excessively drooling
* A dog who is lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
Latest RSPCA figures have revealed a spike in reports of animal cruelty during the hotter months - and with pet ownership having been steadily increasing since the first lockdown this coupled with financial pressures brought about by the escalating cost of living means the charity is bracing itself for what it says will be a 'summer of suffering'.
Around 90,000 calls are made to its cruelty line every month and it investigates 6,000 reports of deliberate animal cruelty, including animal fighting and hunting. But in the summer calls rise to 134,000 a month - three every minute and reports of cruelty soar to 7,600 each month - or 245 every day.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer, said there are many factors which may influence the rise, including alcohol and summer holiday pressures.
He explained: "The longer, sunny days could mean people are out and about more and likely to see and report abuse.
"Hot summer days can also lead to more people drinking alcohol in the sun, which in turn can be a factor causing violence. Perhaps there's boredom or pressures at home with children being off school which can make existing difficulties magnified.
"And this year, we're also concerned that the recent rise in pet ownership coupled with the cost of living crisis could see people really struggling to care for their pets which may lead them to lash out or could see more animals than ever being abandoned or given up."