Dogs in hot cars
Many people still think that leaving dogs in hot cars in a shaded spot with the windows open is fine, however, the truth is it can be very dangerous. The inside of a car can heat up very quickly, according to the RSPCA. It may be 22oC outside but in a car it can reach 47 oC within an hour.
What to do if you see a dog locked in a car on a hot day
The first thing to assess is whether the dog is showing signs of heatstroke. This is when the dog is unable to regulate its body temperature by panting. Some dogs are more likely to experience heat stroke, for example, those with heavy coats [e.g. Old English Sheepdogs] or those with excessively short muzzles [e.g. Pugs, bulldogs].
Signs of heatstroke in dogs
▪ Panting heavily
▪ Drooling excessively
▪ The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
▪ Has the dog collapsed or been vomiting
In the event of witnessing a dog in a hot car suffering from these signs, you should dial 999. The police will inform the RSPCA and let them know animal welfare is required. The RSPCA have no power of entry, therefore they may need police assistance to this type of incident.
How can you help the dog?
If the situation for the dog looks critical and the police or RSPCA are going to be a while or they cannot attend, many people may want to break into the car to set the dog free. If you do decide to do this without proper justification it can be seen as criminal damage.
If you are going to do this you would be best advised to tell the police what you are intending to do and the reasons why. Take photos/footage of the dog and get names and phone numbers of witnesses to the incident. If you can remove the dog safely then first aid would be useful until the dog can be seen by a vet.
Douse the dog with cool water (not cold). Wet towels can be used or place the dog in the breeze of an air fan. Give the dog small amounts of water to drink which is cool. Douse the dog with the cool water until their breathing settles, but ensure that it’s not too much to cause them to shiver.
Any dog which has shown signs of heatstroke should be seen by a vet. Many internal organs can be damaged by prolonged hyperthermia leading in some instances to death. Heatstroke has been seen by the vets here in Washington leading to death.
Dogs in hot cars which are not showing signs of heatstroke
If the dog is not showing the signs of heatstroke, you may want to follow the advice below.
• Try and establish how long the dog has been locked in the car by looking for parking tickets and times
• Make a note of the registration of the car.
• If you are at a shopping centre or supermarket, you could ask the staff to make an announcement to inform the car owner.
• If at all possible get someone to monitor the dog and its condition. They need to watch out for signs of distress or heatstroke and be ready to dial 999
• If you need any further advice you can call the RSPCA animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999
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