Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, even on a mildly warm day
The British weather can never be guaranteed, but it is important that dog owners keep their pets safe by being aware of the risks of leaving dogs unattended in a car or other vehicle.
Every year the Kennel Club hears reports of dogs literally being cooked alive after being left in vehicles in hot weather, a situation which can so easily be avoided. In common with many animals, dogs are extremely sensitive to heat, and even on a mildly warm day they can quickly overheat - even with the windows open and water available - as temperatures can quickly heat up to around 50 degrees Celsius. Meat can be cooked in ovens in only a little over this temperature as the proteins start to break down.
Dogs can die when left unattended in a vehicle, even when it is in the shade, a window is open and there is water available. The British weather can switch very suddenly so even on cloudy days leaving a dog in a car or other vehicle can prove fatal.
For those travelling with their dogs during the summer months, the Kennel Club has issued the following advice during warm weather.
- Consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you don't have air conditioning in your vehicle. Think about whether the journey is absolutely necessary for your dog.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of space and isn't squashed or forced to sit in direct sunlight.
- Always make sure there is shade provided: even in an air conditioned vehicle 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 lukewarm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos for cooling too.
- Be aware of the signs of overheating in dogs, which include panting, disorientation, excessive thirst, dark gums, vomiting, diarrhoea and losing consciousness.
- Leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, even with the window open and water available. Take them out and leave them in a secure, cool place with access to shade and water or take them with you, there are plenty of places that are part of the Kennel Club's Be Dog Friendly campaign and will allow dogs in. Search for these at www.dogfriendly.co.uk.
- Let your dog take part in unnecessary exertion in hot weather, or stand in exposed sunlight for extended lengths of time.
- Pass by a dog if you see one suffering in a car or other vehicle. Whether it be in a supermarket car park or at a show, make sure you let someone in authority know and if in doubt call the police on emergency number 999.
What to do if your dog overheats:
- Contact the vet immediately.
- Move the dog out of the heat.
- Offer the dog cool, rather than cold, water for small drinks if the dog is still conscious.
- If possible, fan the dog with cool air.
- Wrap in cool, damp towels or spray with cool, not cold, water. Pay particular attention to the head.
- Cool the dog's tongue by dabbing with a cold, damp cloth.