‘Not Long’ is Too Long – Car temperatures can rise to dangerous levels, warns PDSA

While we usually focus on cats we thought this advice from the PDSA that will affect more dog than cat owners was of utmost importance!

Following the sunniest spring on record – and now that Summer is officially here – PDSA is urging owners to remember that ‘not long’ is too long when it comes to leaving dogs (or any pet) in cars, even if it’s overcast outside.

The vet charity also has advice for the public about what to do if you do come across a distressed dog in a car.

Put yourself in their paws. Even parked in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly begin to feel like an oven. Many pet owners believe it will never happen to them, yet every year people gamble with their beloved dogs’ lives, and every summer we hear tragic stories of dogs who have died after being left in a car.

PDSA Vet Anna Ewers Clark, said: “Because dogs can only sweat through their paws, they mainly rely on panting to cool them down. This means that, when the air is baking hot around them, they can’t cool down very well. Trapped in a hot car, dogs can quickly succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal without urgent medical attention. Even if they don’t get heatstroke, imagine how painful, distressing and frightening it must be for them to be trapped and overheating.”

If you see a dog left in a car, first check if they are displaying any signs of heatstroke. This is a serious illness which happens when a pet’s body temperature rises and they overheat. It’s an emergency situation and needs treatment right away.

Ask yourself these questions to spot a dog in distress from heatstroke:

  • 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 yes to one or more of the above, the dog could be showing early or advanced signs of heatstroke and immediate action should be taken by calling 999.

Anna added: “Don’t be afraid to dial 999 – the police deal with hundreds of similar incidents each year. You can also report the incident to the RSPCA, but the police have powers of entry which means they can legally break into the car to rescue the dog, and they can respond quickly in these situations, so we advise calling them in an emergency situation.”

If you come across a dog left in a car that isn’t showing any of these signs, we’d recommend taking the following steps:

  • Estimate how long the dog has been there – check for parking tickets or with other people nearby
  • Note the car registration in case you wish to report the incident later
  • Try and wait with the dog until somebody returns to the car
  • If the dog starts to show any of the above signs of heatstroke then call 999

For more advice and information go to www.pdsa.org.uk/dogsdieinhotcars.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal.

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2 thoughts on “‘Not Long’ is Too Long – Car temperatures can rise to dangerous levels, warns PDSA

  1. missimontana says:

    In Colorado, it is now legal to break into a car to save any living thing, whether it be a baby or an animal. Call 911, then, if necessary, you can break a window to make a rescue. You cannot be prosecuted for it if you stay on the scene and cooperate with law enforcement. Of course, this should be a last resort if the authorities do not come in time, and please make sure it’s a real animal or baby, and not a toy. Unfortunately, they had to pass this law because too many people still don’t get the message.

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