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Hot weather advice for pet owners as temperatures forecast to soar

With temperatures set to soar to 20C this week, the RSPCA is issuing advice to pet owners to ensure their animals are comfortable and happy in the heat.

The Met Office has predicted highs of 20C on Saturday and Sunday, prompting the RSPCA to remind pet owners to consider their animals over the summer weather.

Just as cold, wintry weather can pose a risk to animals, hot temperatures in the summer months can also be hazardous to our furry friends.

Every year we receive thousands of reports of animals suffering from heat exposure. The most common calls the RSPCA’s emergency 24-hour line receives is around dogs in hot cars.

Dogs die in hot cars

It’s important to remember not to leave any animal in a car or caravan, or in a conservatory or outbuilding, where temperatures can quickly rise to 47C which can result in death.

Last month, RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes left a thermometer in his van in 15C heat and left it for an hour to see what temperature it would reach inside his vehicle. Within just 60 minutes, the temperature had climbed to 43.5C.

Inspector Joynes said: “In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.

“If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke - such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting - call 999 immediately.”

If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.

Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse him/her with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.

If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.

You can call our 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, in a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.

Caring for animals in the summer

Dogs and horses need exercise, even when it’s hot. But the RSPCA says you should avoid exercising them in excessively hot weather. Experts advise walking or riding in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

Snakes are most active in June and July so don’t be alarmed if you see one in the wild. Most tend to shy away from people.

Farm animals should have access to shaded areas and clean drinking water. Transportation of animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. If animals are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly.

Top tips for pet owners in hot weather
• Don’t let your pet get sunburnt.
• Ensure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water.
• Check every day for flystrike.
• Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds.
• Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.
• Keep pesticides out of reach of animals.

The RSPCA relies on public donations to exist. To assist our Inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message).

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