It can take as little as 15 minutes for a dog to suffer from life-threatening heat stroke when shut in a car.
The temperature inside a car can mount quickly. Dogs are not well-equipped to cool themselves down. They rely on panting which is very inefficient and needs good airflow to work. Even leaving the windows down does not allow enough movement of air inside the car to stop heat stroke from happening. Providing a bowl of water will also not help to prevent heat stroke.
What are the signs of heat distress and heat stroke?
- Heavy panting
- Vomiting and diarrhoea, blood may be present
What should I do if I see a dog in a car who doesn’t appear distressed?
Record the details of the car and its location and see if there is anywhere that might be able to make an announcement locally (e.g. shopping centre, event coordinator).
Call the RSPCA’s cruelty hotline on 03001234999.
What should I do if I see a dog in distress in a car?
Take action straight away. Call the police in the first instance. Be aware that breaking the window could be classed as criminal damage. If you feel that this is the only option due to the state of the dog and if the police are unable to attend quickly enough, ensure you do the following:
- ask for the police’s advice
- take photos and videos of the dog in the car
- take names and telephone numbers of any witnesses
- ask someone to video you breaking the window on your mobile phone
- give the police a running commentary on what you are doing
- write a detailed report as soon as possible and get it signed by as many witnesses as possible
First aid for heat stroke
It is important not to lower the dog’s body temperature too quickly as this can lead to shock.
- Move the dog into the shade
- Offer small amounts of cool, not cold, water
- Wet the dog’s coat with cool or slightly warmed water. Avoid ice-cold water
- Get them into a breezy area, use a fan or simply fan them manually if needed
- Call a local vet and get them seen as soon as possible