I’m a dog expert – here’s why you should avoid users ball-throwers this summer


Dog owners should avoid using ball-throwers, taking their pets on bike rides or to the beach on hot summer days, the RSPCA has warned.

Summer holidays often include bike rides, with a dog running alongside a cycling family.

But on warm days, this may dangerously raise dogs’ risk of heatstroke, according to the RSPCA, as might using a trendy ball-thrower device, which propels a ball further so makes a dog run greater distances in hot temperatures.

It comes as evidence from vets suggests dogs are now more likely to die on hot walks than in hot cars.

Esme Wheeler, dog welfare specialist at the RSPCA, said: ‘Often we see well-meaning people out running with their dogs, cycling with their dogs running alongside, or using a ball-thrower to launch balls for their dogs during hot weather, but this can leave beloved pets panting heavily and at serious risk of overheating.’

Dog owners should avoid using ball-throwers, taking their pets on bike rides or to the beach on hot summer days, the RSPCA has warned

Dog owners should avoid using ball-throwers, taking their pets on bike rides or to the beach on hot summer days, the RSPCA has warned

Summer holidays often include bike rides, with a dog running alongside a cycling family

Summer holidays often include bike rides, with a dog running alongside a cycling family

Fashionable ball-launchers allow dog owners to throw balls three times further than they could by hand.

Particularly sophisticated machines can send a ball up to 30 feet away, forcing a dog to run a long distance.

But any strenuous exercise on hot weather can pose a risk.

The RSPCA says older, overweight and flat-faced dogs, as well as those with thick fur or in ‘doggy clothing’, are at particular risk of overheating if they run or walk for too long in hot summer weather.

Dogs are often ‘ball-obsessed’ so tend to run through any physical discomfort, rather than stopping to recover.

There is also concern chasing far-away balls for too long could put strain on their joints.

The RSPCA says running and cycling with dogs, which have to push themselves to keep up, also raises the risk of overheating, which can lead dogs to pant, stumble, vomit or collapse.

In the UK, around one in seven dogs affected by heat-related illness die as a result.

Days out at the beach or park may keep dogs out in the heat for too long, according to the charity, which is trying to encourage dog owners to take their dogs out at dawn and dusk, when it is cooler.

The RSPCA says running and cycling with dogs, which have to push themselves to keep up, also raises the risk of overheating, which can lead dogs to pant, stumble, vomit or collapse

The RSPCA says running and cycling with dogs, which have to push themselves to keep up, also raises the risk of overheating, which can lead dogs to pant, stumble, vomit or collapse

There is no specific temperature at which dogs should not be exercised, as dogs' vulnerability to warm weather can vary based on their breed, size, age and health

There is no specific temperature at which dogs should not be exercised, as dogs’ vulnerability to warm weather can vary based on their breed, size, age and health

There is no specific temperature at which dogs should not be exercised, as dogs’ vulnerability to warm weather can vary based on their breed, size, age and health.

But charities advise owners ‘if in doubt, don’t go out’.

It is not just running, but also walking or simply being out in warm weather for too long, which can be harmful for dogs.

While the message ‘dogs die in hot cars’ seems to have got through to the public, after decades of repetition, the slogan ‘dogs die on hot walks’ only became well known last year.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) surveyed 481 vets after last year’s hot summer, finding more than four times the number had seen dogs left ill from hot walks compared to hot cars.

The results, revealed for the first time, show nine per cent of vets had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being left in a hot car, but 38 per cent had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being walked or exercised in hot weather.

The RSPCA advice to avoid hot walks, which can be a ‘silent killer’, is being backed by a coalition of animal charities including the BVA, Royal Veterinary College, PDSA and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Miss Wheeler said: ‘Exercising dogs in hot weather can present a huge risk to our beloved animals and can be just as deadly as leaving them in a hot car.’

If a dog shows signs of heat stroke, the owner should stop the pet from exercising, move them into the shade and lay them in room-temperature water, or pour it over them, while giving them small amounts of cold water to drink.

Ice-cold water should not be used, and a vet should be called immediately.

WHAT ARE THE TEN COMMONLY HELD MYTHS ABOUT DOGS?

It is easy to believe that dogs like what we like, but this is not always strictly true. 

Here are ten things which people should remember when trying to understand their pets, according to Animal behaviour experts Dr Melissa Starling and Dr Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney.

1. Dogs don’t like to share 

2. Not all dogs like to be hugged or patted 

3. A barking dog is not always an aggressive dog 

4. Dogs do not like other dogs entering their territory/home

5. Dogs like to be active and don’t need as much relaxation time as humans 

6. Not all dogs are overly friendly, some are shyer to begin with  

7. A dog that appears friendly can soon become aggressive 

8. Dogs need open space and new areas to explore. Playing in the garden won’t always suffice 

9. Sometimes a dog isn’t misbehaving, it simply does not understand what to do or what you want 

10. Subtle facial signals often preempt barking or snapping when a dog is unhappy



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