Car temperatures can rise to dangerous levels, warns PDSA

PDSA is urging owners to remember that ‘not long’ is too long when it comes to leaving dogs (or any pets) in cars.

The vet charity is also raising awareness of what to do if you come across a distressed dog in a car.

Even a parked car in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly become like an oven. Many pet owners believe it will never happen to them, yet every year people gamble with their beloved dogs’ lives, and every summer we hear tragic stories of dogs who have died after being left in a car.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Dogs only sweat through their paws, so they mainly rely on panting to cool them down. This means when the air is baking hot around them, they can’t cool down very well.

“Trapped in a hot car, dogs can quickly succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal without urgent medical attention. Even if they don’t get heatstroke, imagine how painful, distressing and frightening it must be for them being trapped and overheating.”

PDSA advise that if you see a dog left in a car, first check if they are displaying any signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a serious illness which happens when a pet overheats, and their body temperature rises. It’s an emergency situation and needs treatment right away.

If you spot a dog in distress from heatstroke, the vet charity advises you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the dog panting heavily?
  • Is the dog drooling excessively?
  • Does the dog appear lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated?
  • Is the dog collapsed or vomiting?

If you answer yes to one or more of the above, the dog could be showing early or advanced signs of a heatstroke and immediate action is required by calling 999.

Olivia added: “Don’t be afraid to dial 999 – the police deal with hundreds of similar incidents each year. You can also report the incident to the RSPCA, but the police have powers of entry which means they can legally break into the car to rescue the dog and they can respond quickly in these situations, so we advise calling them in an emergency situation.”

If you come across a dog left in a car that isn’t showing any of these signs, we’d recommend taking the following steps:

  • Estimate how long the dog has been there – check for parking tickets or with other people nearby.
  • If you’re at an event or venue, ask them to make an announcement for the owner to return to their car.
  • Note the car registration in case you wish to report the incident later.
  • Try and wait with the dog until somebody returns to the car.
  • If the dog starts to show any of the above signs then call 999.

For more advice and information go to