Chilling warning as 10 dogs taken to Aussie vet 'dead on arrival'

The deaths could've easily been prevented, with one worker at the animal hospital telling Yahoo the sad deaths were 'disturbingly not surprising'.

An Aussie vet is pleading with pet owners around the country to heed hot weather warnings after witnessing almost a dozen dogs die in Saturday's extreme temperatures. As the celsius topped 43 degrees in Western Sydney, 10 dogs were brought into the Small Animal Specialist Hospital "dead on arrival".

"They didn't even make it to us before they died of heatstroke," Dr Timothy Hopkins told Yahoo News Australia, adding that all were brachycephalic breeds with short snouts, flat faces and breathing difficulties. A further 15 dogs were admitted and treated for heatstroke. "It was kind of Armageddon on that hot Saturday, and that was even with the warnings that were out there on social media."

But, heartbreakingly, he warns the total figure for the area is likely to be a lot worse. "If that represents a region where there are three or four of our competitors who have similar numbers, then you could be talking about easily 30 or 40 animals that have passed away if you extrapolate that to all the emergency centres in Western Sydney," he explained.

French bulldog Ruby on footpath and in cage
Ruby, an eight-year-old French bulldog, was rushed to the vet with heatstroke on Saturday. Source: Supplied

'Horrific' scenes amid heatwave

While devastating, Dr Hopkins said the deaths were "disturbingly not surprising". "We know, going into these periods, that we're going to see this kind of thing because the awareness out there is just not where it should be," he explained. "It's obviously shocking the first time you see it, but we see this at least every year. There's a period where people just aren't doing the responsible thing. So we need to increase awareness to try and save more lives."

With a scorching summer ahead, Dr Hopkins is urgently reminding pet owners to keep their animals safe. "We're not being precious, there's actually tens of animals dying each time this happens at just one hospital," he said. "No one wants to see these cases. We don't want to see them, owners don't want to see them and pets certainly don't want to experience this illness. It's really horrific."

Dog owner's terrifying ordeal

Dane from Minto in Sydney's southwest said he let his dogs outside at around 2.30pm on Saturday, when it was "starting to cool off". By 5.30pm his French bulldog Ruby was hyperventilating. "She was limp and couldn't move, just breathing in and out really deeply and her stomach was sort of swollen up a little bit," he told Yahoo. "I put her in the laundry tub straight away and put cold water on her, but I knew something was wrong because she's super afraid of water and once I put her under the tap, she didn't move at all and was super hot to touch."

He then made the half-hour dash to the Small Animal Specialist Hospital. "At that stage, all her kidney levels were high and everything was crazy and when we got there she was still at 41 degrees and that was 50 minutes after I'd found her," Dane said. "I was so worried, I was heartbroken, I didn't know what was going to happen."

Fortunately, Ruby pulled through the night. "I was elated," Dane said. "She made a miraculous recovery and came home mid-afternoon, and she's been getting better and better. She's not back to herself but definitely on the mend."

Plea to fellow dog owners

The father-of-one is now urging other dog owners to be extra vigilant and keep their pets "cool all the time". "You can never be too cautious," he said. "I work from home so my dogs stay inside, and it was mid-afternoon that I put them out but it happened so quickly. So you've got to be more than aware and more than cautious."

Here's how to keep your dog safe in the heat:

Shade and hydration: Give your pets access to cool, shaded spots and a constant supply of clean, refreshing water.

Protect those paws: Before venturing out, use your hand to check if the ground is too hot for your dog's paws. Opt for morning or evening walks when the footpath is cooler or walk on grass.

Sun safety: Ensure your pets' sensitive areas are shielded from harmful UV rays with pet-friendly sunscreen.

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