Devon’s Dogs in Hot Cars
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Devon’s Dogs in Hot Cars

Over 300 dogs have been left in hot cars in Devon in 2015. Coming 5th in a county-by-county run down of incident figures, Devon has been ranked as part of the RSPCA’s 2016 “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” campaign.

Nationally, the RSPCA received 8,779 calls in 2015 reporting incidents of dogs suffering from heat exposure.

Here at Hamilton Garage, we love our furry friends, which is why we wanted to help raise awareness of “Dogs Die in Hot Cars”. If you are a dog owner, then please don’t leave your dog in the car at all when it’s hot, or even on a warm day. When the temperature outside is 20 degrees Celsius, the inside of a closed car in the sun can reach 45 degrees Celsius in under an hour. You know how hot the inside of a car can get – you could be subjecting your dog to that.

Dogs regulate their temperature by panting, so when they’re in a hot car they can’t get enough fresh air to keep their bodies at an acceptable level. This means that they can become overheated very quickly, which has the potential to be fatal.

If the dog is overweight, has a thick coat or has a short muzzle or squashed nose, then it will overheat faster.

How to Recognise Heatstroke in Dogs

There are a number of symptoms of heatstroke, and it’s important to know them so you can recognise them in your dog.

Normally, heatstroke will start with a rise in body temperature, lots of panting, disorientation or lethargy, and dehydration. Check for dehydration by lightly pinching a patch of loose skin. If the skin springs back immediately, then your dog is hydrated. If it takes a couple of seconds, then your dog may need water.   

If you think your dog is in the early stages of heatstroke like this, then placing cool, wet towels over them and changing them regularly, moving your dog to a cooler place and use fans to provide airflow can help reverse the effects.

However, a dog can quickly go from these early stages to collapsing and vomiting. If this happens, you need to contact your vet for emergency treatment.

What to Do with Your Dog

Simply, make sure that your dog is not left unattended in your car. That way you can leave the air-con or climate control on to keep your dog cool. When you take your dog out in the car, go with a friend or family member who can supervise your dog while you’re not there.

Leaving your dog alone in the car isn’t advised, even if you don’t intend to be away for very long. You may take longer than you thought, you might have an emergency, you might have an accident and no one will know that your dog is in your car.

What to Do if you See a Distressed Dog in a Hot Car

The first thing to do if you see a dog that’s clearly agitated, panting or distressed and trapped in a hot car is to try and find the owner. For instance, if it was a supermarket car park, then you may be able to get an announcement over the tannoy.

However, if you think the dog is in serious danger, the first step is to ring 999 and report it to the police. The RSPCA has no powers of entry, so they would need the police to get into the car.

If you are desperate to free the dog, be aware that breaking into the car could be classed as criminal damage. 

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