RSPCA calls for people to ensure their pets don’t frazzle over summer

THE RSPCA is urging pet owners to make sure their four-legged friends do not frazzle in the heat this summer. The charity is reminding dog owners to not leave their pets in cars, conservatories or caravans while they enjoy the sunshine.

All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences.

Already this year, the RSPCA has been inundated with more than 2,000 calls from members of the public who are concerned about how a total of 2,929 dogs are coping in the hot weather.

From June 1-24 this year the RSPCA has received 770 calls from members of the public who were concerned about a total of 1,018 dogs.

Last year, the charity was contacted more than 4,670 times about 6,365 dogs being left in cars – this peaked in July when we took more than 1,100 calls voicing concerns about 1,545 dogs.

The Society is hoping not to see a repeat of the tragic fatalities witnessed year after year when dogs are literally cooked alive.

Last June, two dogs died a horrific death after being left in a police car in Nottingham on one of the hottest days of the year.

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RSPCA chief veterinary advisor Mark Evans said: “If you leave your dog in a car, caravan or conservatory during the summer you are putting your much-loved pet at risk, it’s as simple as that.

“Every year, we ask pet owners the same thing and remind them of the dangers posed but we still get thousands of calls from people who are concerned about animal welfare in the warm weather.”

The temperature inside a car can soar to 47�C (117�F) within 60 minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22�C (72�F).

Other dangers are:

•Cloud cover can disappear quickly.

•All dogs will suffer, but some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs that are old, young, short nosed, long-haired, overweight or heavily muscled are more at risk, as well as dogs with certain diseases.

•Temperatures in air conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as outside within just five minutes of the air conditioning being turned off.

The most obvious sign of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting and profuse salivation. Other signs include:

•Overly red or purple gums

•A rapid pulse

•Lack of co-ordination, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea

•Coma or death in extreme instances

Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heat stroke should act with great urgency.

Pets should be moved to a cooler spot straight away before ringing your vet for advice immediately.

•Douse your dog with cool (not cold) water. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, spray your dog with cool water and place him/her in the breeze of a fan.

Never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver

•Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water

•Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle and then take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery

Under the Animal Welfare Act it is illegal to cause an animal unnecessary suffering.

Penalties for doing so are a fine of up to �20,000 and/or a six month custodial sentence.

* A dog’s normal body temperature is around 39�C (102�F).

Although the upper lethal body temperature of dogs is approximately 42�C (108�F), brain damage may develop at body temperatures of 41�C (106�F).

Dogs are covered in fur and do not sweat in the same way as humans do.

Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool.

The effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities.

Cars heat up very rapidly in hot – or even warm – weather.

Air-conditioning can disguise the danger that a dog will face once the engine is turned off.

The RSPCA’s top tips to help keep your dog safe in the sun:

1.Your dog should always be able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if he/she is feeling hot.

2.Never leave your dog alone in a car.

If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, make sure that your destination is dog friendly – you won’t be able to leave your dog in the car and you don’t want your day out to be ruined.

If leaving your dog at home is the best option because of the weather, always ensure that his/her needs are properly catered for.

3.If you have to leave your dog outside, you must provide a cool, shady spot where he/she can escape from the sun at all times of the day.

4.Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over.

Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent, small amounts.

5.Never leave your dog in a glass conservatory or a caravan.

Even if it is cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and could become unbearably hot.

6.Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excessive hair.

Give long-coated breeds a hair-cut at the start of the summer, and later in the season if necessary.

7.Dogs need exercise, even when it is hot, but walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.

8.Dogs can get sunburned too – particularly those with light-coloured noses or light coloured fur on their ears.

Ask your vet for advice on pet-safe sunscreens.

For more information, please contact the RSPCA press office on 0300 123 0244 or email press@rspca.org.uk

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