Published: 20 April 2022

As responsible dog owners or professionals we know never to leave a dog in a car on a warm day, even if the car is in the shade or the windows are left open.

Sadly there are still some people who think leaving their pet in a car when it’s warm is acceptable. So what should you do if you see a dog in car on a warm or hot day?
If the dog looks like they’re suffering from heatstroke, the best course of action is to call the police on 999. They will advise what to do and whether an organisation such as the RSPCA should assist.

If the dog’s health appears to be critical, and the police are unable to help, you may think it a good idea to break into the car. Should you do this, you need to be aware that you may be committing criminal damage which may result in you having to attend court. However, if you believe your actions are properly justified be sure to inform the police of your plans, and take photos or videos of the dog and its situation, including names and contact details for any other witnesses.

If the dog appears to be suffering from heatstroke (check out the symptoms here), you should get them to a vet immediately. In the meantime you should move them to a cool and shaded area, use cool (but not freezing cold) water to bathe them, and help them to drink small amounts of cold water. However, getting them to a vet as quickly as possible is the best course of action.

If the dog does not appear to be suffering from heatstroke, you can take a number of actions including taking a note of the registration of the car so that you can report the incident to the police, trying to locate the owner of the car (perhaps getting an announcement made if in a shop or venue) and monitoring the dog until the owner returns, in case the dog starts to display signs of heatstroke.

Interested in learning First Aid for Dogs skills? Join us on our three hour course in Sussex, Surrey or London. Check out the dates of courses coming up soon.

As well as our face-to-face courses (when restrictions allow; keep an eye on the website for updates or sign up to our newsletter), we also run regular courses on Zoom, and have an online First Aid for Dogs course too. With the online version you can learn at your own pace from home with our comprehensive course. Priced at just £25, it’s full of essential information and guidance on keeping your dog safe and how to react in an emergency. Start yours now!

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