Too many dogs dying of heat exhaustion by being kept outside, vets say

Heat stroke, heart failure and long-term damage to brains and organs are the common dangerous repercussions vets see each summer, they say.

Volunteer Debbie Glass plays with the puppies at K9 Friends in Jebel Ali, Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Vets and animal workers warn that dogs are dying or suffering long-term health damage because irresponsible owners are leaving them outside in extreme heat and humidity.

Heat stroke, heart failure and long-term damage to brains and organs were common repercussions vets saw each summer.

Dr Sara Elliott, the British Veterinary Hospital’s director of veterinary services, said the clinic witnessed a heat-related dog death last week.

“It was a six-year-old German shepherd, which had been left out in the garden for the third day in a row,” she said. “The wife found the pet lying on its side with white foam coming from its mouth.”

When its owner took the dog to the vet, it collapsed and was gasping for air.

“Despite one-on-one intensive nursing throughout the night to give her the best chance, it was just too late,” said Dr Elliott.

“She started drowning with fluid in the lungs, which we were successfully treating but, in the end, she died of heart failure as the stress was too much.

“This was a short-haired dog in the prime of its life, so for it to die in this way is really sad.

“The team tried everything possible but cell damage was too much and she died at 3am.”

Incidents like that happen every year, she said.

“It needs to stop,” Dr Elliott said. “Of course dogs shouldn’t be left outside in this heat for longer than a few minutes.

“If you are hot and sweaty on a walk then imagine how your dog feels wearing a fur coat and without the cooling effects of sweat.”

Between May and August last year, four dogs died from heat-related problems at the British Veterinary Hospital, on Al Wasl Road.

More than 30 pets were also presented with minor heat-related problems, which the hospital owner described as the worst period in her 20-year career.

“It’s crucial we raise awareness of the problem before the inevitable happens as we can’t have a repeat of last summer’s horrors,” said Dr Elliott.

“A low point last year was when a family’s employees brought in a rottweiler who had collapsed after being left tied up outside in the heat.

“The family’s domestic -workers had wrapped the dog in polythene sheeting to stop it making a mess during the 40-minute journey to our Jumeirah branch in the bed of their pickup, fully exposed to the sun.

“We tried our very best but the brain was determined to be -irreparable after three days of our efforts and we had to euthanise.”

Dr Elliot said even the animals that were saved from heat-related conditions were often left with long-term damage to their brains, organs, hearing and sight, with some developing seizures, heart disease and changes in personality.

Sarah Bartlett, the Animal Action UAE spokeswoman, said keeping dogs outside was a “recipe for mutual disaster”.

“We have seen too many sad cases of animals dying this way and vets here will also tell you that they see this on a frequent basis during summer.

“Daily walks in the summer need to be carefully planned to avoid potentially dangerous repercussions.

“Elevated temperatures mean hotter pavements and burnt feet pads are a common consequence.”

Alister Milne, of K9 Friends, said certain breeds were more prone to suffer in high humidity, including those with shorter snouts such as bulldogs, pugs and boxers.

“Starting to pay more attention to how often your dog needs to pee can help spot early signs of dehydration,” he said. “Excessive drooling on a walk or just after can be a symptom of signs of heatstroke.”