With today’s May Bank Holiday expected to be the hottest on record at 28C the RSPCA is urging pet owners not to leave their dogs unattended in cars – even with the windows open.
The consequences of leaving a dog unattended in the heat could prove fatal too with overheating dogs likely to experience heat stroke, dehydration and possibly death if left alone in scorching temperatures.
It remains an ongoing problem for the animal welfare charity too with the RSPCA receiving almost 8,000 calls regarding dogs overheating in cars last year.
To mark today’s Dogs Die in Hot Cars Awareness Day the animal welfare charity is advising dog owners to keep their dog at home instead of leaving them in cars.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: It’s so dangerous to leave your pet inside any hot environment whether it be a car, a conservatory or even a caravan. The temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C (117°F) within minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22°C (72°F) and this can be fatal for a dog.
“Opening a window, parking in the shade or leaving a bowl of water for your dog isn’t enough and still leaves dogs in serious danger of suffering from heatstroke. And popping into the shop for five minutes is long enough for your dog to be affected.”
Hens added: “Dogs are covered in fur and do not sweat in the same way as humans do. Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. The effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities. Cars heat up very rapidly in hot – or even warm – weather. Air-conditioning can disguise the danger that a dog will face once the engine is turned off.”
“We would simply ask dog owners never to leave their pet unattended in a parked or stationary vehicle and, if the weather is warm, to leave them at home where they can access cool, shady parts of the house and lots of water.”
If you are concerned about the safety of a dog during the heatwave the RSPCA has shared their advice on what you can do to help:
1. In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.
2. If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke - such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting - call 999 immediately.
3. If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.
4. Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and pour small amounts of cool water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put your pet into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool take him the to nearest vet as a matter of urgency.
5. If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.
6. You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.