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Dogs Die in Hot Cars

Every Summer there are cases of this.... despite publication of the risks

Incredibly, every year, people are reminded of the risks, and yet many people take unnecessary risk with their pets life, believing that it will never happen to them.

Have you ever tried sitting in a hot car on a hot summer’s day with your coat on, no air-con and no breeze from an open window? Whilst we can wear shorts and tee shirts, dogs have a permanent coat on throughout the year.

Even parked in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly become an oven. When it’s 22°C outside, within an hour the temperature in a car can reach an unbearable and deadly 47°C. If your dog’s internal body temperature exceeds 41°C, it can be fatal.

What Should I Do If I see a Dog In Distress?

Is The Dog Showing Any Signs of Heatsroke?

Early signs:

  • panting heavily
  • appearing to be upset or distressed
  • dribbling more than usual
  • foaming at the mouth

Advanced signs:

  • bright red gums
  • collapsing or not being able to stand up
  • blood coming from the mouth or nose
  • tremors or seizures.
  • Is the dog panting heavily?
  • Is the dog drooling excessively?
  • Does the dog appear lethargic, drowsy, or uncoordinated?
  • Is the dog collapsed or vomiting?

If you see a dog in a hot car showing any of these signs, dial 999 immediately.

Many people respond in this situation by calling the RSPCA, or other welfare organisations. In an emergency, RSPCA inspectors may not be able to attend quickly enough and because they have no powers of entry, they would still need police assistance. Don’t ever be afraid to dial 999 – the police deal with hundreds of such incidents each year.

If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people’s instinctual reaction will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that, without proper justification, it could be classed as criminal damage and you may need to be prepared to defend your actions in court.

Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why and take images and/or footage of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. 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 (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971). If you need legal advice, please speak to a lawyer.

Dog not displaying signs of heatstroke?

If the dog's not yet displaying signs of heatstroke, follow these few simple steps:

  • Establish how long the dog has been in the car – for example, is there a ‘pay and display’ ticket showing a start/expiry time?
  • Make a note of the registration number of the car. If the owner returns but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you may wish to report the incident to the police.
  • If you’re at a superstore/venue/event, ask the staff to make an announcement to alert the owner of the situation.
  • If possible, get someone to stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If they begin to show signs of heatstroke, call 999 immediately.
  • You can also call the RSPCA cruelty line for advice on what to do at any time – but please be aware that if the situation is dangerous for the dog, dialling 999 should always be the first step.

Emergency First Aid

For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need first aid to have their body temperature lowered gradually.

  • Move the dog to a shaded/cool area.
  • Immediately pour small amounts of room temperature (not cold, to avoid shock) water onto the dog's body. If possible, you can also wipe the dog down with wet towels (NEVER leave them wrapped as this can trap heat and make the situation worse) or place the dog in the breeze of a fan.
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of lukewarm water.
  • Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but never so much that they begin to shiver.

Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet immediately, even if they seem to have made a full recovery.

Stay Safe

The G.R Team

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