Pet owners are being warned of the dangers of leaving pets in their cars in the hot weather, after a woman in Cornwall left her three dogs in a van for over four hours in on the hottest August Bank Holiday on record.
Even with the window open a little, or when parked in the shade, a dog's life can be in danger.
According to the RSPCA, one study found that when the outside temperature is a mild 22 degrees, the inside of a car can reach 47 degrees under an hour.
Pets can "overheat" in other situations, such as being left outside on really hot and humid days.
Here are some tips on keeping your pets cool this summer:
- Walk your dog very early in the morning or later in the evening avoiding the humid weather or the sun
- Use the five second rule to test if the ground is too hot - place the back of your hand on the surface for five seconds and if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your pet
- Make sure your pets have access to plenty of shade
- Make sure clean, fresh water is always available to your pet - including when you're travelling together
- On really hot and humid days, take your pets inside
- Keep your pet’s flea treatment up to date - apply a animal-specific fly ointments to prevent fly bites
- Ticks are also prevalent in hot weather, so apply preventative treatments on your pets
- Ensure your pets are vaccinated - dogs especially against the deadly parvovirus, which is especially active in warm weather
- Clip or trim long-haired dogs, cats and other pets to help keep them cool
- Apply pet-friendly zinc to the noses and ears of white or fair-skinned pets who are prone to sunburn. Also apply sunscreen.
- Keep your smaller pets in the shade or indoors at all times - animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and mice are often kept in cages, so they're not always able to seek cooler places on their own
- Don't allow your pet to over-exercise, as most do not know when to stop
- As a treat, freeze some pet food as an ice block then leave it with your pet as it gradually defrosts during the day.
- Never leave your pet alone in the car - even leaving the windows are down or you're parked in the shade, as it may not be enough to keep your pet from overheating
Animal welfare organisations say pets can overheat in high temperatures, leading to organ failure and even death.
Pet owners should also prevent their pets from drinking from puddles or lakes. Animals can fall ill from ingesting bacteria found in dirty water.
If you see a distressed dog alone in a car, you are advised to call emergency services. More information can be found on websites of animal welfare charities, including the RSPCA.