RSPCA WA Warns: Hot Cars are Death Traps for Dogs

RSPCA WA Warns: Hot Cars are Death Traps for Dogs

RSPCA WA is reminding pet owners that dogs and hot cars are a fatal mix, as Perth prepares for sweltering weekend temperatures which are expected to peak at 40C on Sunday (20 January 2019).

A dog trapped in a hot car is unable to cool down naturally and will quickly suffer heat stress. This can result in death within just six minutes.

Since 1 December 2018, RSPCA WA has received more than 140 reports of dogs left in parked cars on hot days.

When the temperature outside is a mild 22C, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise to over 47C.

In an experiment conducted at RSPCA's Animal Care Centre today, the temperature inside a parked car rose from 35C to 60C in just over 6 minutes.  (Pictured right. The dog is a toy).

Tinting, parking in the shade, or leaving the windows open provides little to no relief, and dogs in these conditions can suffer an agonising death.

Pet owners are reminded it is an offence to confine an animal anywhere, including a vehicle, where it suffers – or is likely to suffer – and owners could face prosecution.

On hot days, dogs should be left at home where they are safe, with shade, food and plenty of water.

RSPCA WA received over 300 reports of dogs left in hot cars last summer (1/12/17-28/2/18). 

A man was prosecuted after his dog died after being left in his car at a Perth shopping centre in January last year. The weather on that day was cloudy and reached a maximum of just 26.2C. 

If you see a dog locked in a car in hot weather, take the following action:

  • Note down the vehicle’s registration number and location and report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589) or call WA Police on 131 444;
  • If you’re at a shopping centre, ask the centre management to page the owner of the vehicle by reading out the registration details over the speaker system;
  • Keep an eye on the dog until help arrives but maintain a suitable distance to ensure you don’t agitate the dog, which could cause further distress;
  • Gather as much information as possible (vehicle details, time and date, photos of the dog in the vehicle etc.) to substantiate the report.


Comments from RSPCA WA Chief Inspector Amanda Swift:

“The number of reports received is really concerning – I cannot believe that the message still isn’t sinking in.

I know people love their pets and want to bring them along when they go out, but the best option for your dog is to leave them at home where they’re safe. 

We often hear from owners that their dog suffers separation anxiety, so has to be brought along for trips to the shops.

But it’s actually far more stressful for a dog to be left alone in a hot car in an unfamiliar car park than to be left at home with an enrichment toy or treat.

The effects of heatstroke can be long-lasting and cause serious long-term health problems, like organ damage – this can happen hours and even days after the dog has been removed from a hot car.

In summer, leaving your dog in the car for ‘just a few minutes’ could be too long. Your dog’s life is simply not worth gambling with.”

Click here to download a brochure explaining the dangers of leaving dogs in cars, and information about what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.


  • Alison:

    30 Jan 2019 15:59:37

    Hi, just wondering if you could send me some pamphlets or can you let me know where to get them from, regarding leaving dogs in hot cars. I have set up my own business educating pet owners on being the best carer they can be to their pet on a vet nursing level and hot cars and pets is one that I am keen to target.

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