Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, has launched a hard-hitting campaign to warn dog owners of the dangers of leaving their pets in parked cars, even for a few minutes. With more hot weather expected this summer, Dogs Trust aims to highlight this urgent and dangerous issue before more beloved pets suffer.
Research unveiled as part of Dogs Trust's campaign shows that despite being a nation of dog lovers, more than one in four UK dog owners admitted to leaving their dogs unattended in cars. Almost half of us (48%) believe it is OK to leave a dog in a car if counter-measures are taken, such as parking under a tree or leaving a window open. Unfortunately, this is a myth - in reality partially lowering the window has no significant effect on the temperature inside a parked car.
Under 20 minutes in a hot car can prove fatal to a dog should its body temperature exceed 41°C. As the temperature inside the car rises, in just a matter of minutes, the dog's suffering will become evident through excessive panting, whimpering or barking. This will develop into a loss of muscle control and ultimately the kidneys will cease to function, the brain will become irreversibly damaged and the heart will stop.
Dogs Trust vets have issued the following advice to pet owners and concerned animal lovers:
- Don't leave your dog in a parked car, even for a few minutes - even if it seems cool outside it can become very hot very quickly. Parking in the shade and/or keeping the windows down does not make it safe!
- If you see a dog in distress in a parked car call the Police Service (101) or the RSPCA (SSPCA in Scotland).
- Make sure you keep your dog as cool as possible when driving: avoid travelling during the heat of the day, use sun blinds on the windows and consider opening a window a little to allow a cooling breeze to circulate in the vehicle.
- Make sure you have a supply of water and know where you can stop off en route for water breaks. Dogs are not able to cool down as effectively as humans so could suffer from heat stroke and dehydration very quickly.
- If you are present at the rescue of a dog from a hot car that is clearly in distress, seek immediate veterinary advice. The very first priority is to prevent the dog from getting any hotter, attempt to provide shade from the sun and move to a cooler area. Dampening the dog down with cool (but not freezing) water will help start to bring the body temperature down.
- Wet towels can be used to cool a dog but these must be regularly changed or spraying them down with water and placing them in front of the air conditioning vent to enhance evaporation on the way to the emergency appointment.
Dogs Trust has created a time-lapse video in support of this campaign, featuring a melting ice sculpture of a dog locked in a car. You can watch the video at the top of this page.
Visit the Dogs Trust website for more information.