The dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars
As the temperatures are quickly rising, we look at the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars.
Even parking in a shaded spot with the windows open can be dangerous for dogs on warm sunny days. According to the RSPCA, the temperature inside a car can rise very quickly; although it can be 22 degrees celsius outside a vehicle, the inside can quite easily reach 47 degrees Celsius within an hour.
Dogs locked in cars on warm sunny days
If you see a dog in a car you need to assess the dog to see if it is showing any signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is an inability to regulate its own temperature. Panting is the main way a dog will try to cool down. Dogs with heavier coats are more likely to experience heatstroke or dogs with excessively short muzzles [e.g. Pugs, bulldogs] which cannot pant efficiently.
Signs of heatstroke
▪ Panting heavily
▪ Excessive drooling
▪ The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
▪ The dog has collapsed or been vomiting
If the dog has these symptoms you should dial 999. The police will inform the RSPCA that there is an animal welfare issue that needs attention. The police may need to assist the RSPCA as they don’t have any power of entry, or the RSPCA may not be able to get there quick enough. For this reason, we strongly advise you call 999 first.
What can you do to help?
In the event of the situation looking critical and the police cannot attend or they are going to be a while, there may be a temptation to break into the car to help set the dog free. However, if you do this without proper justification it can be classed as criminal damage.
Therefore if you are going to do this, please tell the police what you are intending to do and the reason why. Ensure you take photos or video footage of the dog and get names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the incident. If the dog can be removed safely, then the following should be carried out until you can get the dog to a veterinary surgeon.
- Wet the dog with cool water (ensure it is not cold). Wet towels can also be used, you can also place the dog in front of the breeze of an air fan.
- Give the dog small amounts of cool water to drink. Wet the dog with the cool water till their breathing settles. However, ensure it is not too much to cause them to shiver.
Any dog which has shown signs of heatstroke should be seen by a veterinary surgeon. Internal organs may have been damaged by prolonged hyperthermia which can lead to death. We have seen that at our own veterinary centre first hand.
What to do if the dog does not show the signs of heatstroke above
• Try to establish how long the dog has been locked in the car, e.g. check any parking tickets and times
• Take a note of the car registration.
• In the case of shopping centres or supermarkets, you could ask the staff to make an announcement.
• Try to get someone to watch the dog and its condition, in case any of the signs of heatstroke start to appear.
• For further advice, you can call the RSPCA animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999
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