Dogs die in hot cars

Tue Jun 2019

Every year, the RSPCA receives thousands of calls from the public of animals being left alone in cars on hot days. Many people still think it’s ok to leave their dogs in a car on a warm day as long as the window is left open, however this is still a dangerous and risky situation for a dog. Even leaving a dog in a car parked in the shade can still cause the temperature to rise to dangerous levels. A car, even with the windows open, can get as hot as an oven in a short space of time, even if it doesn’t feel that warm outside. The temperature in a car can reach as high as 47 degrees in an hour on a day when the temperature outside is 22 degrees.  Dogs mainly control their body temperature by panting, and when a dog is very hot, sometimes this isn’t enough to stop them from overheating. Left alone in a car on a hot day, even if it’s only for a short period of time, can cause a dog to quickly become dehydrated, develop heat stroke or even die. Those more prone to heatstroke are elderly or young dogs, those with thick, heavy coast and those with short, flat faces. Dogs who are on medication or have underlying health issues are also especially susceptible to heat stroke

What are the signs a dog has heatstroke?

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Heavy Panting
  • Weakness
  • Dribbling
  • The dog appears drowsy
  • Collapse

What should you do if you see a dog left in a car on a warm day?

Even if the dog appears well, immediate action needs to be taken as they can deteriorate quickly. If the dog seems distressed, or is exhibiting any of the signs of heatstroke above, dial 999 and ask for the police.

If the dog doesn’t appeal to be distressed yet, and the car is parked in a supermarket, retail park or event, take the details of the vehicle (registration number, make/model/colour, and the rough location) and see if an announcement can be made over the tannoy. Alternatively, you can call the RSPCAs 24-hour cruelty line for further advice on 0300 123 4999.

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