You nip into the shop, you have left the window open a crack and the dog is in the shade, you will only be a minute. You bump into a friend and have a quick chat. You can’t find the dog food you need. There is a long queue at the checkout. Your card is declined. You find rummage in your bag and find another. You leave the shop. Your shopping bag breaks and your shopping goes everywhere. You pick it up and head for the car. The windows are covered in condensation. You can’t see your dog. You have only been gone for 20 minutes….
In ten minutes the temperature inside a car can reach 39 Degrees Celsius, in 30 minutes, it can reach 49 Degrees even when parked in the shade with the windows down, this is a temperature that can easily cause overheating and the death of your dog. A young, elderly or ill dog could have its body temperature reach 41 Degrees in less than 20 minutes and this can prove fatal.
Always consider if the journey with your dog is necessary, even in an air-conditioned car the dog can become too hot if in full sun. If you are likely to be away from the car, even for a few minutes, you are best to leave the dog at home. If you really cannot leave the dog at home, try and find underground parking to park your car in.
If you are travelling with your dog in the summer months always have in your car:
Two reflective sun visors for your windscreen and rear window for when you park up, this will keep the temperature down for when you all get back in. Ensure you park with the visor facing the sun.
Sun visors on the back and side windows all the time as the sun glaring through the window can even affect the dog while you travel, as it will a baby.
Take cool water in a thermos flask so it stays cold and not lukewarm and
two bowls so that you can leave them both down and if one gets knocked, there is a backup.
Be aware of signs of dogs overheating which include heavy panting, appearing drowsy, vomiting, diarrhoea
What to do if your dog overheats…
The plan is to stop it getting any hotter, but not to cool it down too fast. Move the dog out of the heat and contact a vet. Heatstroke can be fatal.
Offer the dog cool, not cold water if they do not or cannot take it, cool their tongue by dabbing it with a cold, damp cloth.
Fan the dog with cool air
Wrap the dog in a cool damp towel, spray with cool water, paying particular attention to the head, if this is not possible, pour cool water over their head and rub it into their fur.
If you were to leave your dog in the car and it were to become unwell or die, you could be charged with animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006
If you see a dog in danger in a car, call 999 immediately. If you believe the situation to be critical, and you decide to break the window to free the dog, be aware that it could be classed as criminal damage and potentially you may need to go to court to defend you actions. (Last year while on holiday, I needed to book into the lodge we were staying in, I had no option but to leave the dogs in the car for a few minutes as there were no dogs allowed in the reception, so I put the car in shade, the screen reflectors on, I went into the lodge to book in and heard my dogs going mental in the car, so I went out only to find four people discussing how to break the window of the car to free the dogs, so do be aware of how long the dogs have been left, and if they look in distress, my dogs were only distressed because strangers were peering into the car, the children (who had not been noticed as I have fully tinted rear windows at the back) sat in front of them playing on their tablets in the car were quite cross at the disruption though and the temperature in the car was 20 Degrees Celsius when I returned!)
Take photos of the dog, and if possible, get a picture of the temperature outside with the car in the photo. If the dog is sat up and not panting, it is not in distress, so watch the car from a distance so you do not upset the dog, if no one returns and it is hot outside, or the dogs starts to get into distress, call the police.
The law in the UK states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the car would give you consent to damage their car if they knew the circumstances, and wouldn’t everyone give you consent to rescue their dog? (section5 (2) (a) Criminal Damage Act 1971)
The dogs trust have done a video of an ice sculpture dog in a hot car, it is well worth a watch. Click on the Ice Sculpture Photo.
I am not aware of any statistics on how many dogs die in a car every year as most cases are unreported!!!!!