SPCA New Zealand

SPCA sees early spike in reports of dogs left in hot cars

09 October 2020
SPCA sees early spike in reports of dogs left in hot cars

SPCA are experiencing an increase in reports up and down the country relating to dogs being left in hot cars, as spring temperatures start to heat up.

The issue is usually highlighted in the summer months, however with temperatures in some parts of the country already reaching highs of 28°, SPCA are urging dog owners to be extra vigilant.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says on a warm day, the inside of cars can heat up very quickly and if left to suffer, dogs can suffer irreparable brain damage and even death.

“A dark coloured car, parked in full sun on a 22°C degree day can reach an internal temperature of 40°C after just 10 minutes,” she says.

“Opening the windows slightly has very little effect. It’s imperative that people don’t leave dogs unattended in a car at any time of the day and if the purpose of the trip is not to take your dog somewhere, please leave your dog at home.”

A normal dog’s body temperature is around 38.5°C. Dogs only sweat a small amount through their paws and rely on panting to cool down. In a hot car, even with the windows slightly open, panting is not enough to keep a dog’s body temperature within a safe range.

SPCA Inspectors have seen an increase of reports in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Otago and Bay of Plenty.

With a number of people residing in motels as temporary accommodation with pets (predominately dogs) living in cars outside, this is now starting to cause issues.

A dog can withstand a body temperature of 41°C for a short amount of time but will quickly suffer is stifling heat.

“Just like their owners, heat stroke is a serious condition for dogs with mortality rates between 39 and 50 percent. Young, overweight or elderly animals, or those with short muzzles or thick, dark-coloured coats are most at risk of overheating,” Ms Midgen says.

If a member of the public finds a dog suffering from heat stroke, SPCA has some advice:

  • Move dog into shade or an air-conditioned car
  • Offer the dog a small amount of lukewarm water to drink
  • Spray or soak dog’s neck, abdomen and inner thighs in lukewarm water
  • Use cool but not cold water (do not use ice)
  • Take them to a vet ASAP

And if anyone spots a dog locked in a car in distress, please don’t hesitate to call the Police or your local SPCA immediately. Do not smash the window as this puts both you and the dog at risk.

Dog owners can face a $300 fine for leaving a dog in a hot car.

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