Welfare experts are urging dog owners not to leave their pets unattended in parked cars after being called to almost 8,000 incidents across the UK last year.
The total has seen an increase from the 7,187 recorded in 2016 and more than 300 of the call-outs were in Sussex.
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 47°C (117°F) within minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22°C (72°F) and this can be fatal for a dog.
“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.
“Dogs are covered in fur and do not sweat in the same way as humans do. Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. The effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities. Cars heat up very rapidly in hot – or even warm – weather. Air-conditioning can disguise the danger that a dog will face once the engine is turned off.
“We would simply ask 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.”
Last month’s mini heatwave saw RSPCA officers called to more than 240 pet shut ins in six days. Around 105 of these call-outs were in one day.
Today (May 7) is also Dogs Die in Hot Cars Awareness day and the RSPCA has been joined by several other organisations in raising awareness of the issue.
The charity has released the following advice:
- 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.
- Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and pour small amounts of cool water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put your pet into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool take him the to nearest vet as a matter of urgency.
- 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. 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.
For more information visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars.