Remember dogs die in hot cars!

Posted by Betty. June 11th 2014. Tagged: Pet information and ownership advice and Summer pet care

Although it can be tempting to leave your dog in the car whilst you nip to the supermarket or run a little errand on a sunny day, it is important to remember that a hot car can prove fatal to your pet in as little as half an hour.

Read on to find out more about why leaving dogs in cars has become an offence that can lead to prosecution or even imprisonment, and what to do if you discover a dog in distress.

Dog in a car

Why is leaving my dog in the car dangerous for him or her?

Warm sunny weather is a great excuse for trips out and meeting up with friends. Although for dog-owners leaving your pup in the car whilst you nip out can seem innocent, in fact even on a 22°C (72°F) day, the interior of your vehicle can reach temperatures of 47°C (117°F).

For any dog in a stuffy environment including conservatories and caravans, high temperatures can quickly lead to dehydration and death.

Sun screens or shades and open windows make little difference and within just five minutes of the air conditioning being switched off, a dog can rapidly become unwell. Since dogs are only able to reduce their body temperature by excreting sweat from their paw pads or by panting, they can suffer brain damage or even die in just 15 minutes.

How can I look after my pet in hot weather?

If you do leave your dog outside, you must leave him or her in a spot where they can move in to a cool shady spot. Ensure water is always available in a weighted bowl or carry it with you in a bottle or thermos and exercise your animal during the cooler parts of the day.

It also makes sense to groom your dog regularly and consider trimming his or her hair to ensure they can keep cool during hot spells. Speak to a vet about pet safe sun screen lotions to protect your dog’s vulnerable areas including their ears, noses and bellies.

How can I identify heat stroke in a dog?

For concerned passers-by, if you come across a dog on its own in a car, look out for heatstroke symptoms including profuse salivation, red gums, heavy panting, a dark tongue, vomiting or even unconsciousness. The dog might also seem lethargic, mal-co-ordinated or generally unwell.

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others so keep an especially close eye on long haired dogs, puppies, overweight dogs, older dogs or dogs with short snouts.

A Labrador dog's nose close up


What should I do next?

If the dog seems distressed, contact the RSPCA or the police for emergency assistance. If you deem the situation serious enough, then act quickly to get the dog out of the car and into a cool environment as soon as possible. In the short term, place the pet in a shady space or another air conditioned vehicle, provide them with small amounts of fresh water and douse them with cool (not icy) water to return their body temperature to normal steadily.

Wet towels on its stomach, chest and paws can also help but be sure to monitor the animal closely – you do not want him or her to become too cold. It is important to reduce the animal’s body temperature gradually so that the dog does not beginning shivering and go in to shock.

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