Each summer it is important to remind people and raise awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs in parked cars on warm days. Even just nipping to the shop and leaving your dog in a car for a short period of time can be fatal. Remember dogs cannot take their fur coats off if they get too hot! Unfortunately countless dogs die every year after their owners leave them in parked cars for long or short periods of time, thinking their dog is safe but not realising the dangers animals face in this situation.
The temperature inside the car might not seem excessive when you first stop but the temperature inside a stationary car can rapidly increase to double the outside temperature. This can happen very quickly, within a few minutes. We’ve all been there, when we’ve returned to our car and opened the door to feel how incredibly much hotter it is inside than outside. This is simply because a car traps the heat from the sun just like a greenhouse. This is why warm temperatures outside can quickly become deadly temperatures inside a stationary car. Even on comparatively cool days a car’s internal temperature can rocket and keeping the windows open a crack is not enough.
Add to this the fact that your dog has on a fur coat that is designed to trap heat, and you can really begin to see why leaving dogs in parked cars can be so fatal. Also, they cannot sweat to cool down as dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like humans do, so the main way they can cool off is by panting, which isn’t very efficient. A dog panting and salivating in a hot car will be losing fluid and will become dehydrated rapidly, increasing the risk of heatstroke and death.
Even responsible dog owners can make the mistake of not realising just how lethal travelling in the heat with their dog can be and the Kennel Club has produced a set of guidelines outlining the safe way to travel with your dog in these warmer months:
Consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you don’t have air conditioning in your car. Think about whether the journey for your dog is absolutely necessary.
Make sure your dog has plenty of space in the car and isn’t squashed or forced to sit in direct sunlight.
Always make sure there is shade provided, even in an air conditioned car a dog can become too hot if in full sun.
Make sure plenty of stops are taken with lots of water available to drink.
Take cold water in a thermos rather than a plastic bottle so it stays cold rather than being luke warm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos for cooling too.
Leave a dog unattended in a car, even with the window open and water available. Take them out of the car and leave them in a secure, cool place with access to shade and water.
Let your dog take part in unnecessary exertion, or stand in exposed sunlight for extended lengths of time.
Pass by a dog if you see one suffering in a car. Whether it be in a supermarket car park or show, make sure you make someone in authority know and if in doubt call the police or the RSPCA on 0870 55 55 999.
Enjoy a safe and happy summer with your dogs.
Author Donna Condliffe, Canine & Co