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Family dynamics

23rd Jul 2019

Vets warning after dog almost dies of heatstroke while taking a walk in Glasgow park

Jade Hayden

A dog almost died of heatstroke while taking a walk in a Glasgow park.

Finlay the American Bulldog was walking with his owner Shona this week when he suddenly collapsed in the heat.

His body temperature had risen to a life-threatening 42.2 degrees in the hot weather – almost three degrees higher than it should have been.

Shona took Finlay to Glasgow East PDSA Pet Hospital, where the dog – who was born with three legs – was hosed with cold water and put on a drip.

He was also given oxygen therapy and eventually returned to Shona once he had recovered.

“I always bring water for Finlay to drink and keep his walks short,” she said. “I saw him panting and was concerned that he might be getting too hot so decided to take him home to cool down.”

“His breathing became more laboured. He sat down and didn’t want to move.

“Then he collapsed completely and his eyes became glassy and his tongue started to turn blue. I’ve never been more scared in my life.”

Vets in PDSA confirmed that Finlay had suffered heatstroke, a condition that is far more common when a dog is flat faced like Finlay is.

“These breeds can struggle to regulate their body temperature, especially on hot sunny days when dogs haven’t had a chance to acclimatise to the sudden rise in heat,” said vet Terri Steel.

“We needed to bring down his temperature slowly to avoid the risk of shock which can cause organ failure.

“We treated Finlay by hosing him down with cool water and put him on a drip and oxygen therapy to combat shock. We also gave him a light sedative as he was struggling to breathe from stress.”

Once Finlay’s body temperature had dropped to a safe number, he was returned to Shona.

He is now continuing his recovery under close supervision – and in the shade.

Steel said that while any dog can experience heatstroke, flat faced breeds such a Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus are more likely to suffer in high temperatures due to the shape of their noses.

“It’s especially important to make sure they don’t overheat in the first place,” she said.

“Obese dogs, those with very thick coats, dogs that are dressed up, very young pets, and those with breathing problems are also all at higher risk.”

Early signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats include:

  • panting heavily
  • appearing upset or distressed
  • dribbling more than usual
  • foaming at the mouth

Advanced signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats include:

  • bright red gums
  • collapsing or inability to stand up
  • blood coming from the mouth or nose
  • tremors or seizures

You can find more tips to keep your pet safe during a heatwave here.