ISPCA Public Relations Manager Carmel Murray said: “We all love the summer sunshine, but it is important plan in advance especially if you are bringing your pet anywhere with you. Dogs don’t have sweat glands which makes it difficult for them to stay cool so it is really important that they are not left in a hot car for any length of time as it can be fatal. It’s better to avoid walking your dog during intense heat, so early morning or evening walks is best when it’s cooler”.
Carmel added: If the pavement is too hot for your hand, then it is too hot for their paws. Always have fresh cool water available and access to shade from the sun. If you pet is showing signs of severe overheating, move them to a cooler area immediately, spray with cool (not cold) water, and give a small drink of water and contact your vet immediately. In particular older, over-weight or flat-faced dogs are even less tolerant of the heat so it is important to know the signs of overheating such as increased heart rate with excessive panting and drooling, drowsy or out of sorts, vomiting or diarrhoea”.
It is important to remember that ‘dogs can die if left in hot cars’. Pet owners often think leaving a window open is sufficient for their pet but this is not enough to prevent heatstroke under intense sunshine. By leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle during hot weather, even for 10 minutes can prove to be fatal.
Always have fresh water available for your pet; refresh and refill more often than on a normal day and leave extra if you are going out. You can also add ice cubes to your pet’s water. Make sure they have access to shade, and keep them indoors in cooler rooms when the heat becomes too extreme.
Ensure you leave out extra water in the shade for cats and wildlife too. If you have a rabbit or small mammals in the garden, keep their living quarters in the shade. You could also partially cover the front of their enclosures as they can heat up very quickly. All caged animals, even if they are indoors, should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on aviaries or birdcages, which are near to a window.
Remember household chemicals and common summer foods can be toxic to pets. If using sunscreen or insect repellent, please ensure the product is labelled as safe for use on pets. If you are unsure about certain products consult your vet. Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, chocolate, coconut, grapes or raisins, onions, raw meat or excessively salty foods or foods containing the sweetener xylitol can be toxic or cause serious health issues for your pet.
If you do witness an animal locked in a car on a hot day, try to establish how long the dog has been left in the car first, look for a pay and display ticket on the dashboard. If the pet is showing signs of distress and overheating contact the local Garda station immediately or dial 999 /112 in an emergency and call our National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515. Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA), authorised officers such as Members of An Garda Síochána or ISPCA “authorised officers” can use reasonable force to enter a vehicle and rescue a distressed animal if necessary. Members of the public forcing entry into somebody else’s property could leave themselves open to legal action.
Please feel free to download our ‘Keep Your Pet Safe in Summer’ infographic here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jd20hfhxxzpyd2e/AABux_1LHVwH_kdTw6kojAZla?dl=0 to share on social media with hashtags #ISPCA, #dogsdieinhotcars and #responsiblepetownership!