Pet Safety Paramount Concern during Heatwave
RSPCA WA is concerned about the hot weather coming this week – with temperatures forecast to hit over 40C for four days in a row. While it’s natural to want to do the best for your pets and get them out of the heat, taking them in the car and leaving them there, even for just a few minutes, can be fatal. Just don’t do it.
The temperature inside a car can climb to double the outside temperature in a very short space of time – leaving a dog locked inside is like leaving them to cook slowly in an oven.
There are no excuses – if you love your mate, leave them at home.
People think that because they park in the shade or because they leave the windows down that it’s OK, and it’s not. These measures have been shown to provide little to no relief.
We also hear that people “have to” take their dog with them because it has separation anxiety. This can be worse for the dog – leaving it in a hot car in a strange place with people walking past is likely to cause even more disstress to your dog.
It’s best to leave the dog at home in familiar surroundings where it feels safe and has food, water and shelter available.
Pet owners are reminded that it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act (2002) to confine an animal anywhere, including a vehicle, where it suffers – or is likely to suffer – and owners could face prosecution for cruelty. Penalties can include a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment for up to five years, and prohibition from owning or contact with animals.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
On hot days, dogs should be left at home where they are safe, with shade, food and plenty of water.
What should you do 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 278 358), 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.
- If you travel with your dog on the back of your ute, please provide carpet or mats to protect their paws from burning, and shade. Even better - have them ride up front with you, in the a/c!
GENERAL PET CARE ON HOT DAYS
It is important to make arrangements for all your pets on these extremely hot days, especially if you are leaving them home while you go to work.
- Leave extra bowls of water out for your pets, in case one gets knocked over.
- Make sure they have plenty of shade, or let them indoors where it’s cooler, even if it's just in the laundry area.
- Only walk your dog early in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog and can burn their paws.
- Bring smaller pets, like rabbits and guinea pigs inside. They do not cope well with hot weather.
- Don’t forget about your larger pets like horses, sheep and livestock – make sure they have plenty of fresh water, food and shelter from the sun.
Heat stroke is a terrible way for dogs to die. Organs begin to fail and the body begins to shut down, causing a slow and painful death.
Dogs can’t regulate their body temperature like humans, by sweating. They do it by exchanging hot air for cooler air by panting. If they’re trapped in a hot car, they cannot cool down and can begin to suffer from symptoms of heat stroke very quickly.
If you think a dog has heat stroke, seek medical treatment immediately. You could also try to cool them down, but this must be done gradually.
- Place them in the shade or a cool area
- Douse them in cool, not cold, water (cold water can shock them), or place wet towels over their body.
- Give them small amounts of cool water to drink
- Once their breathing slows or returns to normal, stop dousing them or remove wet towels
- Seek medical help as soon as possible.
You can download a Dogs Die in Hot Cars flier here - print some out and have them with you in case you see someone about to leave their dog in a hot car.