Dog owners have been urged to keep their pets cool this weekend to avoid the heartbreak of losing a much-loved companion.
With weather forecasts predicting that temperatures could hit highs of 20c over the next few days, the RSPCA has issued its regular appeal to owners to keep their dogs safe in the sun.
RSPCA chief vet James Yeates said: “A hot car can be a death trap for dogs, it is as simple as that. Leaving your dog in a car, even on an average warm, even cloudy day, can put your pet at huge risk of suffering and even death.
“This is not a new warning, but sadly too many people still don’t appreciate how dangerous it can be to leave a dog in a hot car, conservatory or caravan. Don’t let your dog be the one to find out the hard way.”
The temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C (117°F) within minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22°C (72°F). Opening a window or leaving a bowl of water for your dog will make little difference and still leaves dogs in serious danger of suffering from heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Other dangers are:
● Cloud cover can disappear quickly.
● All dogs will suffer, but some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs that are old, young, short nosed, long-haired, overweight or heavily muscled are more at risk, as well as dogs with certain diseases.
● Temperatures in air conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as outside within just five minutes of the air conditioning being turned off.
The most obvious sign of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting and profuse salivation. Other signs include overly red or purple gums; a rapid pulse; lack of co-ordination; reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea and in extreme circumstances coma or death.
Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heat stroke should act with great urgency. Pets should be moved to a cooler spot straight away before ringing your vet for advice immediately.
Under the Animal Welfare Act it is illegal to cause an animal unnecessary suffering. Penalties for doing so are a fine of up to £20,000 and/or a six month custodial sentence.