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As the sun blazes brightly and temperatures climb, our spirits soar. Summer brings joy and warmth, but it’s important to remember the potential risks it poses, especially for our dogs.

Dogs in cars

The Dangers of Hot Cars

Even on seemingly mild days, the interior of a parked car can become dangerously hot in a short time. For example, when the outside temperature is a pleasant 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature inside a car can soar to a deadly 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) within an hour. This extreme heat can lead to severe distress, suffering, and potentially fatal heatstroke in dogs.

Moreover, leaving a dog in a hot car isn’t just dangerous—it’s illegal. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, pet owners can face animal cruelty charges, which may result in a six-month jail sentence and an unlimited fine.

Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog in the Car

To keep your dog safe during warm weather, consider these alternatives:

  1. Leave Your Dog at Home: If your dog is comfortable staying alone for a few hours, leave them at home with plenty of fresh water and a cooling mat.
  2. Take Turns: If you’re with someone, take turns running errands so one of you can stay in the car with the air conditioning running to keep your dog cool.
  3. Bring Your Dog Along: More places are becoming dog-friendly. Research ahead to find out if your destination welcomes dogs so your dog can join you inside.

Dog-Friendly Retailers

Several retailers have adopted pet-friendly policies, making it easier to bring your dog along. Here’s a list of some stores that welcome well-behaved dogs (policies may vary by location, so always check first):

  • Pets at Home: They offer pet supplies and have various locations across the UK.
  • B&M Stores: You’ll find everyday essentials here, including pet food.
  • Apple Stores: If you need tech, Apple stores across the UK are dog-friendly.
  • Cotswold Outdoor and Mountain Warehouse: These outdoors shops allow dogs.
  • AnthropologieSeasalt, and FatFace: For fashion, you can do some dog-friendly shopping at these stores.

Remember to check with specific stores before visiting, as policies may vary.

    What to Do If You Spot a Dog in a Hot Car

    If you encounter a dog left in a car on a warm day, follow these steps:

    1. Assess the Dog’s Condition: Check if the dog appears distressed.
    2. Alert Store Staff: If the dog is not in distress, note the car’s registration number, make, and model. Inform the store staff so they can announce it over the loudspeaker. Stay by the car to monitor the dog’s condition.
    3. Call Emergency Services: If the dog is in distress, call 999 immediately. This can save the dog’s life.
    4. Consider Breaking In: If you must break the car window, be aware that this could be seen as criminal damage. Discuss your intentions with the 999 operator and document your actions with photos or videos for legal protection.

    Recognising Heatstroke in Dogs

    Knowing the signs of heatstroke in dogs is essential:

    • Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy or uncoordinated movements
    • Collapse
    • Drooling

    Emergency First Aid for Heatstroke

    If you rescue a dog from a hot car, perform emergency first aid immediately:

    1. Move the dog to a cool, shaded area.
    2. Pour cool (not cold) water over the dog. Avoid wetting their head to prevent inhalation.
    3. Do not cover the dog with a wet towel as it can trap heat; placing a towel underneath is fine.
    4. Give the dog cool water to drink in small amounts.
    5. Continue cooling the dog until their breathing stabilises, but avoid causing shivering.
    6. If the dog loses consciousness, aggressive cooling is crucial.

    After stabilising the dog, take them to the nearest vet without delay.


    The summer sun can be a delight, but it also has its dangers. Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day. Opt for safer alternatives, recognise the signs of heatstroke, and be prepared to act quickly in an emergency.

    Keep your dog safe in the summer heat. Learn the dangers of hot cars, explore dog-friendly alternatives, and know the signs of heatstroke.
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