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How to Keep Your Dog Safe in Hot Weather

With temperatures set to rise over the summer, most of us will be getting our flip-flops out to enjoy the heat. However, animals can’t deal with soaring temperatures so easily, and dogs are especially at risk from severe overheating.

It’s important to take these crucial extra steps to ensure their safety:

  • Keep dogs indoors: Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heat stress and be physically damaging or fatal.
  • Provide water and shade: If dogs must be left outside, they should be supplied with ample water and shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun during a heatwave can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Walk, don’t run: In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by cycling while they try to keep up or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point it may be too late to save them. They can quickly become severely overheated, and an “exercise” session can turn into a medical emergency.
  • Avoid hot pavement: Dogs’ footpads easily burn on heated roads, pavement and sand. Test the road surface with your hand before walking a dog while the sun is out.
  • Stay alert and save a life: Keep an eye on all “outdoor dogs”. Make sure that they have adequate water and shelter. If you see a dog in distress, contact the RSPCA right away and give the dog immediate relief by providing water.
  • Avoid parked cars: Never, ever leave a dog in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows slightly open. Dogs trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes – even if the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.

Parked cars are death traps for dogs in warm weather. On a 26-degree day, the inside of a vehicle parked in the sun can reach 70 degrees in just minutes. Cars parked in the shade aren’t safe for dogs, either, and can quickly become unbearably warm for dogs left inside.

Every summer, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car – even for “just a minute” – while they run an errand.

Here’s what to do if you ever come across a dog suffering inside a hot car:

  • Write down the car’s colour, make and licence plate number and try to locate the owner.
  • Call the police immediately. Don’t hesitate to dial 999 if the dog is in distress.
  • Stay on the scene until the situation has been resolved.
  • If you can’t find the owner, the authorities are unresponsive or too slow, or the dog’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or two) who will back up your assessment and then take steps to remove the distressed animal from the car.
  • Wait for the authorities to arrive.