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Dogs in hot cars

Never leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. Many people still believe that it's okay to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but the truth is, it's still a very dangerous situation for the dog. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, dial 999.

Never leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day

In common with many animals dogs are extremely sensitive to heat and even on a mildly warm day they can quickly overheat-even with the windows open and water available. Dogs can die when left unattended in a vehicle. The British weather can change very quickly so even on a cloudy day leaving a dog in a car or other vehicle can prove fatal.

Some people think that it is illegal to leave a dog in a car. This is not the case but, if your dog is suffering as a result, that can be an offence. This is most likely to happen when the weather is hot or sunny - your car acts like an oven and heats up very quickly, even if you leave windows open, and a dog can suffer heatstroke in as little as 5 or 10 minutes (leaving a water bowl in the car does not help).

Some key points to remember


  • Consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you don't have air conditioning in your vehicle. Think about whether the journey is absolutely necessary for your dog.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of space and isn't squashed or forced to sit in direct sunlight.
  • Always make sure there is shade provided: even in an air conditioned vehicle a dog can become too hot if in full sun.
  • Make sure plenty of stops are taken with lots of water available to drink.
  • Take cold water in a thermos rather than a plastic bottle so it stays cold rather than being lukewarm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos for cooling too.
  • Be aware of the signs of overheating in dogs, which include panting, disorientation, excessive thirst, dark gums, vomiting, diarrhoea and losing consciousness.



  • Leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, even with the window open and water available. Take them out and leave them in a secure, cool place with access to shade and water or take them with you.
  • Let your dog take part in unnecessary exertion in hot weather, or stand in exposed sunlight for extended lengths of time.
  • Pass by a dog if you see one suffering in a car or other vehicle. Whether it be in a supermarket car park or at a show, make sure you let someone in authority know and if in doubt call the police on emergency number 999.


What to do if your dog overheats

  • Contact the vet immediately.
  • Move the dog out of the heat.
  • Offer the dog cool, rather than cold, water for small drinks if the dog is still conscious.
  • If possible, fan the dog with cool air.
  • Wrap in cool, damp towels or spray with cool, not cold, water.  Pay particular attention to the head.
  • Cool the dog's tongue by dabbing with a cold, damp cloth.

Further information can be found on the RSPCA website:  RSPCA - Dogs in hot cars