Soaring temperatures prompt vets and animal welfare groups to issue ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ warning

17 April 2018

With temperatures set to touch the mid-twenties this week, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has teamed up with a coalition of rescue and rehoming charities, police, and welfare organisations to launch this year’s Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign to highlight the dangers that warm weather can pose to dogs. 

On a hot day, even when it’s cloudy, the temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly reach over double those felt outside. For example, when it’s 22°C outside, the temperature inside a car can become 47°C within an hour, which can result in death for any dog trapped inside.

The RSPCA receives thousands of reports of dogs suffering from heat exposure every year, which equates to almost two calls every hour across the summer months. While these calls can include dogs in conservatories or caravans, the majority of the incidents involve dogs in hot cars.

Vets see the unfortunate aftereffects of dogs being left in hot, enclosed spaces such as cars and conservatories. Findings from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey last year revealed that almost half of UK vets had treated animals affected by heat-related conditions over the summer of 2016, with one in four vets seeing as many as eight cases of animals in need of treatment for heat-related conditions over the summer.

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“We all love our pets but many of us inadvertently put them at risk by leaving them inside a car thinking it’s not too hot outside or that they’d only be leaving the animals alone for a short while. 

“Unfortunately, even on a cloudy, overcast day, ‘not long’ can end up being too long for your pet. Leaving the car windows open and a bowl of water is not enough. 

“We’re proud to be supporting this campaign and hope that it not only encourages pet owners to think twice before leaving their dog in a car, but also raises awareness about what members of the public can do to help a dog in distress before it’s too late.”

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

Download the poster (PDF 2.50 MB) and leaflet (PDF 5.44 MB) for more information on what to do if you see a dog in distress on a hot day.

The most obvious sign of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting and drooling. 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.

If anyone sees a dog in a car displaying any signs of heatstroke, they should call 999 immediately and report a dog in a hot car to police. You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.

Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heatstroke should quickly move it to a cooler spot, pour small amounts of room-temperature water over its body and allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool, rush it to the nearest vet for treatment.

The Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign coalition was formed in 2015 and includes BVA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Parking Association, Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, Mayhew, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, RSPCA, TeamOtis-UK and Wood Green The Animals Charity.

    BVA Media Office