Never leave your dog in a hot car.
Our message is simple – don’t risk it. Whether you are nipping to the shop or going out for a few hours, it is not worth taking the chance.
Dogs in hot cars can overheat in minutes. On warm days, even in the shade, temperatures can rise quickly inside a vehicle and this can cause heatstroke or cardiac arrest, which can be fatal. Leaving a bowl of water or a window open is not enough.
Some dogs are also more prone to heatstroke than others – such as very old or young dogs, those with thick, heavy coats, or those with short, flat faces (such as pugs and boxers). Certain conditions and medications can also make a dog more vulnerable.
Leaving an animal in a hot vehicle can lead to prosecution.
What to do if you have concerns about a dog in a car on a hot day
If the dog looks distressed or is showing signs of heatstroke, contact us on 03000 999 999 and Police Scotland on 999. We need the police to be there as well so that we can force entry to the car if the animal needs to be rescued.
Whilst waiting, follow the steps outlined below:
- Try to work out how long the dog has been in the car. A 'pay and display' ticket could help.
- Note down the car model, colour, registration, and where the vehicle is located.
- If the car is parked at a supermarket then ask for a broadcast to be put out asking for the owner to return to their car.
- Take the names and numbers of any witnesses.
- Take photos and videos of the dog and the car.
Even if the animal is not showing any signs of being in distress, temperatures in vehicles can rise quickly and their health could soon get a lot worse. We recommend that you continue to follow the advice above and make sure that you, or someone else, stays with the animal to monitor their condition.
If an owner is not located and the animal does not appear distressed, but you still have concerns, contact Police Scotland on 101 and provide the details you have taken.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in a dog?
- Breathing issues
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
- Loss of coordination
Can I smash a window to rescue the animal?
Breaking into a car should always be a last resort as you could be charged with criminal damage. We advise anyone who is going to break a dog from a hot car to inform Police Scotland first. We also recommend taking the names and numbers of any witnesses and to take photos and videos of the dog in the hot vehicle.
The dog is now free from the car – what do I do next?
If the dog is showing any signs of heatstroke, then they need to be seen by a vet and to be cooled down as soon as possible. Firstly, do the following:
- Remove the dog from the heat and get them into shade or somewhere air-conditioned.
- If possible, have the dog lying down on a cool floor.
- Wet the dog’s body by pouring cool water on their tummy, inner thighs and neck. Do not place wet towels over the dog as this can trap in the heat.
Also, avoid pouring water on their head and do not let water run into their mouth as they may inhale this, particularly if they are panting, and this could lead to drowning.
- If they are conscious, offer them a small amount of water to drink.
Once the dog has cooled down, take them to a nearby vet as a matter of urgency. If the owner was located, then they should organise getting their animal to the vets as soon as possible.