We took our dogs for a walk today. It was a hot day (by UK standards) so we knew we would have to keep it short, walk in the woods where it was shady, let them paddle in the river and give them lots of water to drink. And when we ate our lunch we would find a table in the shade where we would all sit together. Before we set out on the walk, Anthony and I both wanted to visit the toilets. I popped in first while he waited with the dogs, then he went in while I stood outside with the dogs. Star was doing her impatient, "LEt's go, I'm bored!!!" whine, but then suddenly I heard another dog's whine. I looked around but the only other dog, a Labrador tied up outside the cafe was silent, merely regarding us mournfully as she awaited her people's return.
Turning my head this way and that, I eventually spotted a dog crate on the back seat of a nearby car. The window nearest me was rolled down about two inches, and the far one about one inch. I told our dogs to heel, and walked over to have a closer look. The dog was a white Scottish Terrier, and she was encased in a mesh dog crate about two feet square. I'm sure in other circumstances her feisty terrier temperament would have caused her to bark at me but perhaps because she was hot, she merely looked at me and whined. Anthony had joined me by now, and we discussed what to do. Clearly her owners were enjoying lunch in the cafe while their poor dog slowly cooked.
I put my hand inside the car to feel the temperature of the car. Again I expected the dog would bark at me, but instead she scrambled at the mesh that enclosed her, trying to get up to me. It was boiling hot in that car and she wanted out. Her attitude towards me and the appalling heat in that car hardened my resolve. I handed both dog leads to Anthony and went into the cafe.
"Whose is the Scottish Terrier in a crate in a car outside?" I asked calmly but loud enough so that everyone in the cafe heard. No response. I repeated my question, and a couple looked up at me enquiringly. They were sitting at a table and were at least three quarters of the way through their sandwiches so they had been there long enough to order, have the sandwiches made and delivered to their table and eat most of them; they had not only just arrived, and their poor dog had been in the car for far too long already.
I knew there was a good chance that they would not want to bother interrupting lunch to get their dog out of the car - after all they had let her in there in the first place, so I carried on speaking calmly but loud enough for the whole cafe to hear, "She's whining like mad and she's unhappy. The car is very hot - you really need to get her out." I waited, hoping I wouldn't have to take any further action. A few people turned round to look at the couple, and eventually the man stood up and came outside to the car.
"I've only just put her in!" he muttered.
"She could be dead in twenty minutes in this heat," I told him, still calm, but only just. I waited long enough to make sure he really did get the dog out and then set off with our dogs.
I don't like dogs being left in cars at the best of times, but in hot weather it's just madness. I can't believe people still do it. I do my best not to be an interfering do-gooder, but on this occasion had to speak up - I was genuinely concerned about the dog's safety. If the couple didn't like me I don't really care, and I hope that next time they'll think twice before they leave their lovely little dog in a car in hot weather. If they don't I just hope there's someone else on hand to speak up on the dog's behalf, and dogs in hot cars is something I'll continue to get hot under the collar about.
By coincidence I recently received this email about dogs in hot weather from Dogs Trust:
HOT SUMMER, HOT DOGS
Dogs Trust issues advice to help hounds beat the heat
Summer appears to be on its way and while the public is hoping the spell of hot weather continues, our four-legged friends might be thinking otherwise. Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, would like to remind dog owners that their canine companions can suffer in the heat.
Unlike their human counterparts, dogs cannot enjoy a refreshing iced beverage, nor can they appreciate the cool of a gentle breeze through light summer outerwear. Our hot and hairy hounds need your help to keep them happy and healthy this summer.
Chris Laurence, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust says:
“Whilst enjoying fun in the sun please remember that dogs can suffer from the same problems that humans do including overexposure to the sun, overheating, dehydration and even sunburn. I urge dog owners to keep their hounds happy this summer by following Dogs Trust’s advisory points.”
- NEVER leave your dog in the car as this can lead to quick fatality, even parking in the shade is very dangerous as temperatures in the car can still soar
- If you are travelling anywhere in the car with your dog make sure you have a supply of water
- Walk your dog in the morning and evening when the weather is cooler and make sure shady spots and drinking water are available.
- Clip the fur of particularly hairy hounds and apply canine sun cream to areas most likely to burn: ears, nose, and belly. Human suncream can be toxic so buy a special pet version from your local pet shop.
- Be extra vigilant with older, short nosed and overweight dogs as they are more prone to overheat. In a real emergency wet your dog thoroughly with cool water, never iced, and use a household fan to blow cool air over their head and body. Seek urgent veterinary attention.
- If your dog takes a dip in a lake or pool make sure you rinse him as soon afterwards as possible. Never allow your dog to drink from ponds unless the water is clear as algae in the water can produce toxins that are rapidly fatal.
A MET Office spokesperson says:
“Most parts of the UK have benefited from some lovely weather over recent weeks and had a real taste of summer. The Met Office works to help people stay well in hot weather. In fact from June to mid September, we operate a Heat-Health watch system in association with the Department of Health across England and Wales, aimed at the vulnerable in society. It’s great that Dogs Trust is issuing this advice to prevent dogs being unnecessarily endangered in any hot weather we may have.”
Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with 17 Rehoming Centres across the UK. Dogs Trust cares for over 16,000 stray and abandoned dogs every year.