RSPCA warns of dangers of dogs, cars and summer

RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis (inset) is warning dog owners about car heat dangers. Pictures: Supplied/Craig George
RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis (inset) is warning dog owners about car heat dangers. Pictures: Supplied/Craig George

The RSPCA has already noticed an uptick in reports of dogs being left in cars.

Now, the animal advocacy organisation is putting out a call to remind dog owners not to leave their beloved pets in the car as the mercury rises.

While the soaring Australian mainland temperatures might be less dramatic in Tasmania, a temperature of 22 degrees celsius can be enough to send the temperature inside a car soaring. It is understood it can take less than six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car.

RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis said the organisation had already noticed an obvious increase in reports of dogs being left in cars in the hot sun.

She said last week, when Launceston recorded two days of 28 plus degree temperatures, the organisation received about two to three reports every hour.

Ms Davis said there were also reports of the death of a dog who had been left in the car in the heat.

Another example she provided detailed how a dog was left in a car, without shade, for about 25 minutes before its owner came to let it out.

"Tinting, parking in the shade or leaving the windows open do not help to reduce the inside temperature significantly," she said.

"Sadly, every year, despite the warnings ... some people don't listen. As a result, animals suffer - and some [more] will die.

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"People should never leave their animals unattended in vehicles or even on the back of a ute, even for a short period of time."

Ms Davis said the difficulties were further complicated by the fact even a roving RSPCA patrol officer is unable to break the window of a car if a dog is in distress and, instead, that ability falls to Tasmania Police.

If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, you can call the RSPCA animal cruelty hotline on 1300 139 947, and then police on 131 444.

More information is available at: justsixminutes.com.au.

RSPCA tips for the summer:

  • "Never leave your pet in a vehicle - even or a few short minutes, even when the windows are down, animals can still overheat and die.
  • Animals can suffer heat stress in all sorts of circumstances - walking too far on hot pavements, being left in yards without shade etc. Avoid exercising your pet during the hottest part of the day. Feel the concrete and bitumen before going for a walk - if it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your pet to walk on. Make sure there's plenty of shade for animals left alone outside; provide lots of water sources; and don't tether an unsupervised animal.
  • Heat stress is an emergency. Veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible if heat stroke is suspected.
  • Initial emergency treatment should aim to normalise body temperature. Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal's fur/skin, followed by fanning of the wet fur. Don't use ice-cold water or ice, as this may exacerbate the problem."
This story Why six minutes is all it takes for a dog to die in a car first appeared on The Examiner.