You’d think it’s a given that everyone knows that if you leave a dog in a car in the summer it’s not good for them, but I’ve been surprised by the number of articles I’ve read showing that dogs are dying in hot cars this summer, still. The RSPCA received around 350 calls over the weekend of 6-7 July about dogs trapped in cars. Why is this still happening? Are we not taking it seriously enough?
Having felt a little poorly earlier this week, I looked up some information on heat stroke. For humans this is a life threatening condition and can come on very suddenly after exposure to heat, and especially after exercise. The information I read declared very strongly how important it is to be immediately hospitalised if you are suffering from heat stroke. For dogs it is the same life threatening condition, and they are wearing fur coats and cannot communicate with us if they suddenly come over feeling exhausted and dizzy. The condition is especially worse after exercise. So imagine that you’ve taken your dog for it’s usual run around in the park. You and the dog jump in the car to head back home, and on the way back you realise that you need some milk, pull over, leave the window cracked open and nip into a nearby shop. You’ll only be there 5 minutes, it should be okay, shouldn’t it…?
…Yesterday I wondered to myself what it feels like to be shut in a car with the window open a crack, so when I arrived outside a clients I closed the windows except for a little crack, and turned the engine off. After 10 seconds the temperature had risen so much that I felt ill and needed to get out of the car. I was not wearing a fur coat and had not just been running around in a park.
So the answer is no, it is not okay to leave your dog in a hot car for any length of time. Or a hot conservatory, or a garden in which there isn’t a shaded area. Make sure your dog can always access shade and water, at all times. Please please talk to friends and family about how suddenly and severely heat stroke can affect anyone, especially those wearing fur coats who have recently exercised. Tell them to drop their dog back home first before nipping to the shops. Or better still, don’t worry about walking/exercising their dogs in this heat! We do walk our dogs too much anyway.