Heavy dogs also showed an increased risk of heat stroke. Importantly, this group includes both overweight and large or muscular dogs. Large dogs are generally more likely to experience heat stroke than dogs under 10kg, with large breed dogs (over 50kg in weight) three times more likely to develop heat stroke.
Dogs over the age of two were also at higher risk, with older dogs (over 12 years old) most likely to suffer from heat stroke. This is because younger dogs may be more active, while older dogs with compromised cardiovascular and respiratory functions may struggle to shed excess heat as efficiently.
The study involved over 900,000 British dogs and used historical, anonymized veterinary records, representing approximately 10% of the estimated British dog population. In 2016, the heatstroke mortality rate in the UK was 14 per cent, meaning that one in seven dogs with heatstroke died from their condition.
The number of dogs that suffered heatstroke was relatively small, just 0.04 percent of the population (or one in 2,500 dogs). However, that study used data from 2016, and temperature records have been broken since then. The intensity and frequency of heat waves is expected to increase in the future.