With forecasters predicting the hottest days of the summer so far, animal charities, vets, the police and welfare organisations have teamed up to remind people that dogs die in hot cars.
An awareness campaign is being spearheaded by the RSPCA to ensure pet owners are aware of just how dangerous the hot summer weather can be for dogs.
And breakdown and road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is also encouraging dog owners to ensure their animals are safe and comfortable on car journeys.
Road safety officer Neil Worth said: “Dogs can’t cool down as easily as humans, so even if you’re comfortable in the car, your dog could be overheated and dehydrated.
“If possible, use sun blinds and open windows to allow air to circulate in the car,” he adds.
The RSPCA says it has already been called out to three incidents this year where dogs have died from being left in a hot car.
In 2015, the charity received a total of 8,779 calls to report incidents of dogs suffering from heat exposure in England and Wales - more than 3,000 more than in 2010. Heat exposure can include dogs outside who are suffering from the heat, or dogs in conservatories or caravans but the majority of these incidents are dogs in hot cars.
A spokesman said: “It’s important to remember not to leave any animal in a car or caravan, or in a conservatory or outbuilding, where temperatures can quickly rise, even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside. For example, when it’s 22C outside, within an hour the temperature can reach 47C inside a vehicle, which can result in death.”
As part of the campaign, the groups have issued a shocking video highlighting the dangers to dogs of being left even for short period.
The charity has also issued guidelines for what to do if you see a dog in a car on a hot day.
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.
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.
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.
Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse him/her with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
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. If you’re at an organised event/shop/retail park 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.
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.
And GEM has compiled a short checklist designed to ensure dogs stay safe and comfortable on car journeys:
Take lots of water on long journeys, and a supply of your dog’s usual food.
Keep an eye on how your dog is coping on a journey. Dogs can’t cool down as easily as humans, so a comfortable temperature for you may still be too hot for your dog.
If your dog hates car journeys, get him used to short trips first, then offer a treat or a long walk.
Park in the shade, but remember that even a short period in a hot car can make your dog seriously ill.
If you see a dog inside a car and are concerned about his welfare, try to alert the owner. If this is not possible, contact the police or the RSPCA via their 24-hour helpline (0300 1234 999).