Warning over danger to dogs in hot cars as Bank Holiday temperatures soar

A Hungarian wire-haired Vizsla, panting in a car with the window open. Picture: ANDREW FORSYTH/RSPCA

A Hungarian wire-haired Vizsla, panting in a car with the window open. Picture: ANDREW FORSYTH/RSPCA. - Credit: Archant

As Bank Holiday temperatures soar to record levels, pet owners are being warned never to leave dogs attended in hot cars.

The logo for the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign.

The logo for the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign. - Credit: Archant

The RSPCA has issued its warning as it revealed that last year calls to the charity about animals overheating reached nearly 8,000, with 90% of calls regarding dogs. This included 154 calls in Suffolk and 267 in Essex.

During last month’s mini-heatwave, the RSPCA’s emergency hotline received 241 calls in six days, with 105 on just one day (April 19) as temperatures soared.

Today the RSPCA was bracing itself for another surge in emergency calls about dogs shut inside hot cars, as a second heatwave arrived, with some of the highest May temperatures in 40 years. This has been forecast to be the hottest Early May Bank Holiday since records began, with a possibility that temperatures could hit 28C (82.4F).

The bank holiday has been declared Dogs Die in Hot Cars Awareness Day, and RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “It’s really concerning to see that the number of calls about this issue actually rose last year, when it had been steadily falling over previous years. We had hoped that the message was finally getting through but, sadly, it seems that this may not be the case.

“It’s so dangerous to leave your pet inside any hot environment whether it be a car, a conservatory or even a caravan. The temperature inside a car can soar to 47C (117F) within minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22°C (72°F) and this can be fatal for a dog.”

She added the dogs do not sweat in the same way as humans, and the effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures.

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“Opening a window, parking in the shade or leaving a bowl of water for your dog isn’t enough and still leaves dogs in serious danger of suffering from heatstroke. And popping into the shop for five minutes is long enough for your dog to be affected.”

The RSPCA leads a coalition of other groups and organisations in its annual campaign during the summer months, raising awareness of the dangers. It advises dog owners never to leave their pet unattended in a parked or stationary vehicle and, if the weather is warm, to leave them at home where they can access cool, shady parts of the house and lots of water.

If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, in an emergency the RSPCA advises dialling 999 and reporting it to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, they would need police assistance. If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke, such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, or is lethargic or unco-ordinated, or collapsed and vomiting, their advice is to call 999 immediately.

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 be the first step.

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