Research project funded by Dogs Trust aims to cool down hot dogs

Thanks to funding from our canine Welfare Grants (CWG) programme, a new research project led by Dr Dan O'Neill at the Royal Veterinary College has commenced which will investigate the incidence and risk factors of heatstroke in dogs in the UK.

Heatstroke is a potentially fatal, yet often preventable, condition for dogs that can be caused by confinement in hot conditions (environmental heatstroke) or from exercise (exertional heatstroke). Despite attempts to educate owners about these risks, growing numbers of dogs are believed to be affected each year.

As well as striving to provide the best possible welfare for the dogs in its care, we also invest in funding research that aims to improve the welfare of dogs for years to come through our Canine Welfare Grants (CWG) programme.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director, says:

"Each year, we consider grant applications from students, post-graduates and practising vets and behaviourists for research projects which positively impact dog welfare. The projects cover a very wide spectrum from the genetics which make some dogs overweight to understanding abnormal behaviours such as spinning and chasing shadows.

"We have campaigned for many years on the "Hot Dogs" issue so we are delighted to be able to find this latest research project. We anticipate that the findings from the study will help to support better educational campaigns to reduce or prevent heatstroke in dogs."

The VetCompass™ projectHot Dogs – the epidemiology of canine heatstroke presenting to UK primary care veterinary practices’ will be led by Dr Dan O’Neill at the RVC in collaboration with Emily Hall and Dr Anne Carter at Nottingham Trent University. The two-year study will explore clinical records of over 900,000 dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK for heatstroke events. As well as reporting on the frequency of heatstroke, the study will assess which breeds, ages, sex and bodyweight are at most risk. The study will also assess which parts of the UK are at the highest risk.  

Dr Dan O’Neil, Senior Lecturer Companion Animal Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, says:

“Despite the 2016 launch of intensive educational campaigns by veterinary, charity and canine welfare organisations, almost 8,000 calls were made to the RSPCA to report animals in hot environments in 2017, an increase of 38% since 2010. Reports of dogs dying in hot cars emerge every summer and increasing numbers of heatstroke cases are presenting to vets. I am extremely grateful to Dogs Trust for funding this research which I believe will add considerably to the knowledge base in this important area.”

Emily Hall, Lecturer in Veterinary Nursing Science at Nottingham Trent University, says:

“Despite evidence of a growing problem, there are no large-scale studies exploring canine heatstroke in the UK and research from other countries has been limited in its scale and scope. Understanding the incidence, mortality rates and risk factors of heatstroke specific to the UK dog population, will provide evidence to support more targeted, personalised and effective educational campaigns to prevent this potentially fatal condition.”

If you are interested in applying for funding or would like a
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