Here at AC Wizard, we love our cars, and we also love our dogs just as much! Unfortunately, some people still leave their furry friends in their cars on hot days not realising the danger this poses to their pets.
So how dangerous is a car on a hot day?
Simply put cars can be a death trap on a hot day, especially when parked in direct sunlight. Over time cars heat up much higher than the ambient air temperature outside of the vehicle. For example, after 1 hour a parked car can get to a temperature of 47ºC when the air temperature outside is 22ºC, this is significant as health problems due to heat can start from temperatures of 41ºC.
The main concern with leaving dogs in hot cars is the risk of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by exposure to high levels of heat. There are a few steps you can take to minimise the risk of heatstroke when travelling with your dog.
Put the air con on
Roll windows down a little to improve air flow (never allow your dog to stick their head out of the window they may enjoy it but it is extremely dangerous)
Take water and stop for breaks regularly so they can stretch their legs
Take towels with you in case you need to treat your dog for heatstroke
So what should you look out for
Rapid, heavy breathing
Confusion and disorientation
Shivering despite the heat
Red gums or mucous membranes
The dog feels hot
Weakness and collapse
Loss of consciousness
What to do if you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke
If your pet is suffering from heatstroke, it is vitally important that you act fast below are some crucial first aid measures you can take to help your pet.
Move the dog to a shaded/cool area.
Immediately pour small amounts of room temperature (not cold) water onto the dog’s body to avoid shock. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place the dog in the breeze of a fan.
Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but never so much that they begin to shiver.
While you are performing basic first aid contact your vet immediately for prompt advice and/or Veterinary attention. Remember heatstroke is potentially life-threatening so you shouldn't delay or take any chances!
What to do if you find a dog locked in a car on a hot day
This is a bit of a touchy subject and can be challenging to say exactly what to do. In certain situations, it can be acceptable to break into a car to free an animal in distress, but this is a very risky thing to do. Below are recommendations from the RSPCA
Establish the animal's health and condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke dial 999 immediately.
If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why. Take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. 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, if the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke perform first aid as detailed above and contact the sspca in Scotland (03000 999 999) and the RSPCA in England and Wales (0300 1234 999). This could mean the difference between life and death for the dog.
Disclaimer- The advice given in this article is not a substitute for qualified medical advice and ac wizard recommends that if you suspect your pet has symptoms of heatstroke that you contact your daytime or out of hours vet immediately.
AC Wizard does not offer legal advice if you intend to damage property AC Wizard accepts no liability for this and we can not recommend that you do so. If you take any actions detailed in this article, you do so at your own risk, and AC Wizard accepts no liability for these actions.