One of Dubai’s most experienced veterinary surgeons appealed for pet owners in the UAE to take extra care of their animals with temperatures rising, after experiencing a spate of serious animal incidents last summer.
Between May and August 2015 four dogs died and ten more were successfully revived from serious heat-related problems at Dubai’s British Veterinary Hospital, plus over 30 pets presented with minor climate-related problems, which the owner describes as the worst period in her 20-year career.
The hospital’s director of veterinary services, Dr Sara Elliott, said: “Summer is going to hit without warning and we need to be prepared. It is already too hot for some breeds to cool down easily. Animals have limited ability to sweat – they shed heat through their paws, which severely impairs their ability to cool down. Owners must take particular care when their pets are young, old, short faced or heavily coated.
“It’s crucial we raise more awareness of the problem before the inevitable happens, as we can’t have a repeat of last summer’s horrors. A low point last year was when a family’s employees brought 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 truck fully exposed to the sun. The dog had a temperature of 45 degrees when it arrived. We tried our very best, but the brain was determined to be irreparable after three days of our efforts and we had to euthanise.
“On another occasion a relocation company took two dogs and a cat to the airport for export checks during the height of summer but left them in the car without air conditioning for well over an hour while completing paperwork. The animals basically cooked in the car and we received them at the hospital with two already dead and the other beyond help. It was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever made, calling the family in the UK, who were excited about receiving their beloved animals and breaking the bad news, which was made worse when discovering it was on the daughter’s birthday.
“We also treated a handsome 70kg St Bernard, who had collapsed with heat stroke on a Dubai beach during a morning walk in the summer. He was gasping and panting so much, he twisted his stomach, which we operated on as soon as he was cooled down and made stable. He survived but developed epilepsy as a result of the brain damage. This happened in the morning at 8am, so the owners were trying to ensure it was cooler, but this dog is bred for snowy conditions and he just couldn’t cope with the summer heat.”
Dr Elliot explained animals saved from heat-related conditions are often left with long term damage to their brains, organs, hearing and sight, with some developing seizures, heart disease, changes in personality, plus requirements for complex and expensive diets.
Paula Amantea, owner of a young bulldog called Harvey who was saved last summer from the brink of death through heatstroke by the clinic, explained how the dog went downhill fast and only just got the dog to the Al Wasl Road British Veterinary Hospital in time to save him from lasting damage.
She said: “We were moving house and arrived to the villa, which turned out to have faulty air conditioning and no cold water. It didn’t seem so hot, but after a few runs up the stairs Harvey quickly deteriorated, losing coordination, focus and drooling heavily. He was in a bad way when we got him to British Veterinary Hospital just in time to save him, but he did have minor kidney damage, so was kept in there on a drip for over a week, receiving intravenous fluids, medication and regular supervision. Eight months on, Harvey is perfectly healthy and content, but we will not forget almost losing him and won’t be taking any chances in the heat this summer.”
With eight full time veterinarians, British Veterinary Hospital is the only licensed veterinary hospital in the emirate and was awarded the top veterinary practice in Dubai for standards and compliance with all regulations by Dubai Municipality. Working to UK veterinary hospital standards it offers an in-house laboratory, x-ray, radiography, kennels and sterile surgical facilities.
10 tips for keeping animals safe in the heat
- Don’t let your pets walk on ground that you can’t hold the palm of your hand on for 15 seconds
- Never leave pets in a parked car for any time in the heat
- Don’t leave pets at home for more than eight hours
- Ensure your maid or home help are trained and briefed if looking after your animals
- Limit exercise to evenings and mornings and only walk once long coats are trimmed
- Don’t rely on a fan – pets do not sweat like us, so fans can have little effect
- Provide ample shade and water whenever outside
- Prepare for power issues, by having a back up house to take your pet to in emergencies
- Consider effective gadgets, such as cool mats and jackets
- Forget door flaps to the garden, which can jam with devastating consequences