Thousands of dogs expected to suffer this summer after calls about dogs left in cars reaches three-year high


PDSA is one of 14 organisations who have launched a joint campaign this year, after reports of dogs left in hot cars reached a three-year high in 2018.

Despite a major annual campaign each summer, last year saw a three-year high for the number of reports of animals suffering heat exhaustion* with 8,290 reports to the RSPCA's emergency line in England & Wales. This upswing in calls to RSPCA is also in the face of campaigners' advice for members of the public to report dogs in distress in hot cars to the police via 999, as officers can attend more quickly and have power of entry to locked vehicles.

PDSA has again linked up with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Parking Association, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dog’s Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, #TeamOtisUK and Wood Green The Animals Charity to spread the message:Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “Dogs can only sweat through their paws, so they mainly rely on panting to cool them down. This means when the air is baking hot around them, they can’t cool down very well. Trapped in a hot car, dogs can quickly succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal without urgent medical attention. Even if they don’t get heatstroke, imagine how painful, distressing and frightening it must be for them being trapped and overheating.

“Parked in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly heat up like an oven, even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside. On a mild summer day of around 22°C, a car parked in the sun can reach a temperature of over 47°C within just an hour – dangerous for humans and dogs to be trapped in. In hotter weather, cars can even heat up to 60°C. So our message is clear: ‘not long’ is too long.”

Holly Barber, Campaign Manager at RSPCA, said: “Last year was our busiest for three years, with almost 8,300 emergency calls made to the RSPCA about this issue - that’s a 5% increase from 2017 and a 15% rise from 2016.

“It’s extremely concerning that despite all of our campaigning, dog owners are still ignoring our warnings and risking their pets’ lives by leaving them alone in cars on warm days.

“How many more dogs need to die before people realise that that split second decision - usually made due to convenience - could have a life-changing consequence?”

A quarter (26%) of vets surveyed as part of the British Veterinary Association’s autumn 2018 survey said they’d seen cases of dogs requiring treatment for heat-related conditions over the summer. The survey also found that almost one in seven vets (13%) had seen a dog coming into their practice suffering as a result of being left in a car.

*8,290 calls about animals and heat exhaustion in England & Wales reported to RSPCA’s emergency hotline in 2018 - 90% of which related to dogs left in hot cars.