PDSA warn not to keep dogs in locked cars during the summer

With summer now in full swing, warmer weather and longer days offer the perfect opportunity to pack up the car and hit the road.

Leaving a dog in a car on a warm day can create a potentially fatal situation (photo: Adobe)
Leaving a dog in a car on a warm day can create a potentially fatal situation (photo: Adobe)

But what can start out as a fun relaxing day in the sunshine can have tragic consequences for dogs, who can sadly suffer from heat exhaustion after being left in a car.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Leaving a dog in a car on a warm day, even in a shaded location with the windows open, can create a potentially fatal situation. Parked cars can reach incredibly high temperatures within minutes which inevitably will cause a dog’s body temperature to rise very quickly, leading to heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause seizures, organ failure, and even death. No matter what season it is, if you see a dog in distress left unattended in a car, you should always act quickly.

What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

Dog alone is locked in car on heat hot day, howls and whines, asks for water on sunny summer day

“If you see a dog that has been left on its own in a car on a hot day, assess the situation first before acting. If the dog is panting heavily, appears lethargic or drowsy, is drooling excessively or is vomiting or unresponsive, they could be showing signs of heatstroke, in which case you should seek help immediately.

“Many people’s first response in this situation may be to contact an animal welfare organisation, but these inspectors do not have powers of entry and will still require police assistance. Because of this, it’s best to call 999. Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation, and sadly, police regularly deal with these incidents.

If the dog is not displaying signs of heatstroke

“If the dog isn’t displaying any obvious signs of heatstroke, try to establish how long they may have been in the car. For example, there may be a ‘pay and display’ ticket with a start or expiry time that could give you a clue, though a dog should never be left in a car unsupervised – even for a short amount of time.

Don't leave a dog alone in a locked car on a hot summer day (photo: Adobe)

“If you’re concerned, note the car’s registration, and if you’re at a supermarket or public venue, ask the staff to make an announcement to alert the owner to the situation. If possible, someone should stay with the car to continue to monitor the dog.

What to do in an emergency

“If the situation becomes critical, you may feel you need to break into the car and perform emergency first aid. If you decide to do this, please be aware that, without proper justification, it could be classed as criminal damage and you may need to be prepared to defend your actions in court. Always inform the police first of what you intend to do and why, take images and footage of the dog and record the numbers of any witnesses to the incident.

“Start to cool the dog down immediately while someone contacts a local vet for advice.”

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing