First things, first, the danger of leaving dogs in hot cars…
On a 25 degrees celcius day, the temperature in a car can reach 37-48C. Dogs don’t sweat like humans and have to pant or sweat through their paws to cool down making it much more difficult for them. Overheating in a car cause a dog to get heat stroke which can lead to loss of consciousness and organ failure.
The AA carried out a survey and found that 21% of dog owners have left a dog unattended in a vehicle for more than 20 minutes. More than 1 in 10 people know of a dog that has come to harm parked in a car in hot weather. And over a quarter of people asked admitted to leaving their dogs alone in parked cars.*
Although it may not be illegal to leave your dog in a car, it is illegal to mistreat or abuse an animal in your care. Therefore leaving a dog in a car can be deemed animal neglect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Dogs should not be left in hot cars full stop. However, if you are travelling with a dog try to keep them cool by turning on air conditioning or opening windows. You can buy sunshades to stop them from being in the full sunshine. Cooling mats are also great for them to lie on, you can also get cooling collars and bandanas! Also make sure you stop to give them plenty of cold water.
Try to walk your dog first thing in the morning and just before sunset as these are the milder parts of the day and when your dog will be most comfortable.
The temperature rarely exceeds 20C in the UK, but on those sizzling summer occasions, consider your dogs paws on hot pavement or sand. On these occasions it’s worth investing in some insulated doggy booties to keep their paws at a pleasant temperature.
It’s only natural that your best friend will follow you wherever you go, and in the case of the heatwave this may be the sun terrace or garden. Consider buying a paddling pool to keep them cool. Of course, if you wanted to buy a paddling pool anyway, this is a terrific excuse.
If your dog is averse to water, a cool pad is another great option. The dog can lie on this mat-like pad which stays cold for up to 3-4 hours.
Err on the side of caution when it comes to ice. It’s ok to offer the occasional ice-cube and add it to your dog’s water bowl, but should your dog appear to be suffering from heat stroke, do not douse them in freezing water or apply loads of ice. Unlike humans, dogs need to cool down gradually as ice can close the capillaries of the skin and stop the cooling of vital organs. In the event of heat-stroke, gently cool your dog down on a cold surface with a wet towel or mist. If the situation persists, take them to the vet.
*Vision Critical surveyed 2000 adults across the UK in April 2014 on behalf of the Dogs Trust.
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