HEAT WARNING: Experts reveal dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars & the law on rescuing them

Summer has finally arrived but it doesn’t come without its dangers. In 2019, the British Veterinary Association recorded a three year high in the number of dogs left in hot cars.

To help avoid a nation of hot dogs, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has pulled together advice on how to keep your pets safe and what to do if you find a dog suffering in a hot car.

The facts: Within 10 minutes a car temperature can increase by 10°C

The heat can be fatal to our furry friends so it’s vital that new and experienced owners alike remember the facts:

  • The inside of cars can heat up at an alarming rate, even if you only leave the car for a short amount of time:

    • 10 minutes can see a 10°C increase in temperature.

    • 20 minutes can see a 16°C increase in temperature.

    • 30 minutes can see a 19°C increase in temperature

    • One hour can see a 23°C increase in temperature

    • Over one hour can see a 24 to 29°C increase in temperature.

  • Heat exhaustion can occur when the bodies temperature reaches 32°C

  • Heatstroke can occur when the bodies temperature reaches over 40°C

And remember, heatstroke can be deadly for dogs.

Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle for any amount of time

When faced with the dilemma of leaving your pet alone or unloading the whole car and dragging a canine around while you quickly run an errand – you might be tempted to leave your poochy pal on their own for a few moments.

However, even if you’ve taken precautions like parking in the shade and cracking a window, it’s not enough. Dogs don’t sweat like humans and can only lose heat through panting. This means they struggle to regulate their temperature if stuck in a hot space and the effects can be deadly.

What to do if you see an animal left unattended in a car in the heat

Call for the owner and alert staff if you’re by a shop If you see a dog alone in a car during summer, you should first check to see if the owner is nearby. If you’re near a shop, inform the staff and security, they’ll be able to make a shop-wide announcement to alert the owner.

Call 999 – The local police have the authority to break a car window to rescue an animal in danger but you should not attempt to gain access to the vehicle as you could be fined for criminal damage or injure the animal inside the car.

Check the doors and inform the police of your intentions – If there’s no alternative, you should first check the doors to see if the car has been left unlocked. If you do have to break a window to save the animal make sure you call 999 and let the police know what you’re doing and take photos and videos to clearly record the situation. You should also note down the license plate number and any witness details.

Keith Hawes, Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, says: “It may seem like obvious advice, but we’ve all been there. You’re in a rush. You don’t want to go through the hassle of sorting the dog for the sake of an errand that would take twice as long with them in tow. But whatever your justification, at that moment, think about the potential impact. A problem with the lock on your car could mean that a quick trip to the post office is something you never forget.  Dogs are members of the family, and while you’d never think of leaving a child in the car, we should never be leaving animals in there either, especially during a heatwave.”