With temperatures soaring, it is vital to take care of our animals. And this means paying particular attention to the wellbeing of our livestock, wildlife and pets. There are always animals who suffer as a result of human thoughtlessness, and sadly one scenario is dogs dying in hot cars.
What to do if you find a dog in a car on a hot day
Call 999 (the police are sadly used to getting such calls) - the RSPCA may not be able to get to you as quickly and may not have officers available in the area. In any case, the RSPCA have no powers of entry and would still need police assistance which could take more time.
The flyer has information about what to do if you find a dog in a car on a hot day, including advice for if you think you need to break into the car to get the dog out, as Battersea point out this could be a criminal act, so it has tips for how to approach such an action.
There is a hard hitting national campaign now to warn people of the devastating consequences of leaving dogs in hot cars. The campaign urges people to dial 999 if they see an animal in distress - police have the power to break into vehicles.
The British Veterinary Association research shows that 48% of vets questioned treated animals for conditions relating to hot weather in the summer of 2014. The majority of these animals were dogs. The police and RSPCA still receive thousands of calls about dogs trapped inside cars on a hot day. Conservatories and caravans or motor homes can equally be death traps.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all owners have a duty of care towards their animals. This includes preventing suffering, and not exposing them to extremes of temperature. If a dog is left on a warm day and suffers, the owners could be prosecuted.
Email your local supermarket
The group spearheading the campaign also think that retailers, venues and car parks have a duty to ensure that when animals are on their premises, their welfare is protected. If it is not, they must act. Clear procedures need to be in place, and information that clearly reminds visitors of the risks of leaving any animal in a car. Actually any place where the public come in could take these steps to help ensure dogs aren't left in hot cars:
To display their campaign poster at the store entrance to warn customers about the dangers of leaving dogs in warm weather
To train customer service staff on the correct steps to follow if a dog in a hot car is reported
Make customer announcements over the speaker system on warm days, that dogs should not be left in cars
Dogs suffer in hot cars
When it’s just 22 degrees outside, a car can reach a staggering 47 degrees in an hour. Dogs are different to people - dogs can't cool down in the same way we can. Leaving a window open or parking in the shade won't help. Cloud cover can quickly disappear. Temperatures in air conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as outside within minutes of the air-con being turned off.
Animal Friends insurers have this video you can watch to see how leaving a car affects a dog. This is a 15 minute video, and Animal Friends say if you don't have time to watch it all, please watch the last five minutes to see what the impact is on animals left in hot cars.
Signs of heatstroke are...
Excessive panting and profuse salivation are the most obvious signs but also:
overly red or purple gums
a rapid pulse
lack of co-ordination
reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
vomiting or diarrhoea
in extreme circumstances coma or death.
If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, act fast. The RSPCA says:
Move your pet to a cooler spot straight away. Then ring your vet for advice immediately.
Douse your dog with cool (not cold) water. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, spray your dog with cool water and place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver
Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water
Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle and then take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery