Advice for pet owners in warm weather

The RSPCA is warning pet owners not to leave their pets in sweltering cars as the warm weather returns.

Temperatures have been about 10 degrees higher than normal in recent days and the Met Office is predicting a top temperature of 28 degrees on Sunday (2 October).

While people are making the most of the sunshine pet owners are being warned not to leave their pets to cook in hot cars.

In the past week (22 to 29 September) the RSPCA has received 170 reports from people worried about animals left in hot cars – three times as many calls as the same week last year when the charity answered 50 calls.

With the unseasonal warm weather forecast to continue into early October the charity is reminding dog owners not to leave their pets in cars, conservatories or caravans while they enjoy the sunshine.

All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences.

The RSPCA’s message is: ‘Dogs die in hot cars. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.’

As an example, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 47 degrees within 60 minutes when the outside temperature is 22 degrees. Even in lower temperatures, if it is sunny or slightly warm outside, a vehicle can become hot very quickly.

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

• Coma or death in extreme instances

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.

• Douse your dog with cool (not cold) water. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, spray your dog with cool water and place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver

• Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water

• Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle and then take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery.