Thousands of dogs are admitted to vets every year after being left in enclosed spaces

Vets have teamed up with rescue and rehoming charities, police, and welfare organisations to warn dog owners about the dangers warm weather can pose to their pets.

On a hot day, even when it’s cloudy, the temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly reach over double those felt outside. For example, when it’s 22°C outside, the temperature inside a car can become 47°C within an hour, which can result in death for any dog trapped inside.

Now, with temperatures set to soar, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and a coalition of animal welfare groups have launched their annual Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign.

Our own emergency vets treat hundreds of cases of heat exposure every spring and summer while the RSPCA receive almost two calls every hour. While these calls can include dogs in conservatories or caravans, the majority involve dogs in hot cars.

Watch as our reporter conducts his own heat stroke experiment

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Vets see the unfortunate after-effects of dogs being left in hot, enclosed spaces. Findings from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey last year revealed that almost half of UK vets had treated animals affected by heat-related conditions over the summer of 2016, with one in four seeing as many as eight cases of animals in need of treatment for heat-related conditions over the summer.

Steph Dobbs, a registered veterinary nurse who is clinical resource manager of Vets Now’s contact centre, said: “We are inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke during hot spells.

“In many cases, the owners said they’d left their dog in an enclosed space or taken them out in the middle of the day, and that they’d been suffering breathing difficulties ever since. This is one of the main signs of heat stroke, which is life-threatening if left untreated.”

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick added: “We all love our pets but many of us inadvertently put them at risk by leaving them inside a car thinking it’s not too hot outside or that they’d only be leaving the animals alone for a short while.

“Unfortunately, even on a cloudy, overcast day, ‘not long’ can end up being too long for your pet. Leaving the car windows open and a bowl of water is not enough.”

The most obvious sign of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting and drooling. Other signs include overly red or purple gums; a rapid pulse; lack of coordination; reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea and in extreme circumstances coma or death.

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An image of a dog looking happy in a car for Vets Now article on dogs die in hot cars
On a hot day, even when it's cloudy, the temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly reach over double those felt outside

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If anyone sees a dog in a car displaying any signs of heatstroke, they should call 999 immediately and report a dog in a hot car to police. You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.

Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heatstroke should quickly move it to a cooler spot, pour small amounts of room-temperature water over its body and allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool, rush it to the vet or, out of hours, the nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic, for treatment. The earlier a dog suffering heat stroke is treated, the better chance they have of recovery.

Vets Now has 58 clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur. All of our premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.