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Hot Dogs in Cars

an alert about Heat Stroke in Dogs

Do NOT leave Dogs in Cars.  

Every year I put this important alert out here, and sadly, still, every year we still see several cases of heat stroke in the summer months, in particular, in pet dogs, kept in closed vehicles in the summer heat. Sadly, despite this repeated advice every year, every single year dogs die after being left in vehicles in the warmer weather. This dreadful and very sad situation can easily be avoided.   

In the warmer weather, as the temperatures increase, it is really important to ensure that your beloved pet dog stays cool and healthy throughout the summer months.   

Even on a mildly warm day, dogs can overheat in cars. In a closed vehicle, temperatures can quickly rise to around 50 degrees Celsius. It is an awful and terrible thought, but meat can be cooked in ovens a little over this temperature, as the meat proteins start to break down.     

Dogs can die when left unattended in a vehicle on a hot day, even when in the shade. The weather in the UK is unpredictable and can suddenly switch, so even on cloudy days leaving a dog in a car can sadly prove fatal. The advice is to never leave a dog unattended in a closed vehicle, even with the window open and water available.    

If you see a dog struggling and overheating in a vehicle. Make sure you let someone in some authority know as soon as possible. If in doubt then call the police on the emergency number 999, or the S.S.P.C.A. Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.  It is an animal cruelty offence to have a dog overheated and therefore suffering in a locked, closed vehicle.     

Remember that any enclosed spaces, for example caravans, garages, sheds, or conservatories can be similar and can dangerously, quickly overheat too.    

For those intending on travelling in vehicles with their dogs during the summer months, here is some advice to consider during the warmer weather. Always be well prepared, and consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you do not have air conditioning in your vehicle and think about whether the journey is absolutely necessary for your dog, and will your dog be safe and comfortable for the whole duration of your journey.   

Make sure your dog has plenty of space in the vehicle and is not squashed in or forced to sit in direct sunlight behind a rear car window. Always make sure there is always adequate shade provided in the vehicle, even in an air-conditioned vehicle a dog can become too hot for periods of travel if in full sun.   

Make sure that plenty of "comfort" stops are taken, with lots of fresh, cool water on board available for your dog to drink. Give them a rest from the travel frequently, in a cool place with access to plenty shade and water. Or you can take them into a cafe or hotel with you. Search Kennel Club’s “Be Dog Friendly "campaign: www.dogfriendly.co.uk. Take plenty of cool water in a large thermos flask rather than a plastic bottle, so it stays cool rather than being lukewarm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos flask for cooling water too. Also cooling treats, for example tasty ice cubes with their own food inside, can be used as a travel snack. You can also use cool pads to make sure your pet stays cool during the journey.   

Here is some “At home” advice also, while at home, to ensure a happy safe summer for your pet: Never let your dog take part in any extended periods of exertive play or exercise in hot weather or stand for periods of time in exposed direct sunlight.   

A lightweight cotton, loose fitting, cooling vest, soaked in cool water and well wrung out can help keep your pet cool. Also, a shallow dog-proof padding pool placed in the garden in a shady spot, can keep water-loving dog's nice and cool.   

Also, on hot days do check that the pavement tarmac or that the sand at the beach isn't too hot to stand on for sensitive paws. Test the temperature of the surface with your hand, ... if it is too hot for you to touch, then it is too hot for your pet dog to walk on!     

Keep any heavily coated dogs well-groomed and clipped out to help them stay cool and use a pet friendly sunscreen on any exposed bare, hairless, or pale coated ear tips and on-top of noses.  


Also, be aware that all the Short-nosed “Brachycephalic” Dog Breeds, like pugs and Bulldogs, become extremely stressed in the heat as they find panting a less effective way to keep themselves cool. These breeds more so than others can really struggle to breathe when they become overheated. Also, young puppies and older dogs find it much harder to regulate their body heat naturally, and they can really struggle in the heat too.   

Always when exercising your dog, sensibly walk your dog in the cooler times of the day, in the early mornings and in the cool of the evenings, and never take your dog out for exercise your dog in the heat of the day. Your dog should have access to clean water to drink at all times, so do remember to carry some water and a travel water bowl with you on their walks.   

Be aware of the signs of overheating in dogs, which include anxiousness and distress, panting excessively, disorientation, excessive thirst, dark red gums, vomiting, diarrhoea and losing consciousness.  If you are at all concerned that your pet may have heat stroke, do contact a Vet immediately, Heat Stroke is an emergency situation.  

Summer is a time for families to have fun with their pets, so please follow these tips, to ensure that this year is a happy and healthy summer for all.   


Alison Laurie-Chalmers   
Senior Consultant,   
Crown Vets