Most people will have heard stories about dogs dying in hot cars and will be familiar with the dangers that can be posed to dogs during the warm summer months.

Despite the fact that the dangers are well known, dogs continue to suffer needlessly as owners repeatedly ignore advice and lock their dog in the car.

Donaldson’s Vets are the official show vets at Honley Show and, as often happens, the Police and I were called to a car in the car park where a member of the public had reported that a dog in a car was showing signs of distress. Those of you who were at Honley Showground that day will recall that it was not an especially hot day at the show but in a car with no shade and no windchill effect, the temperature can rise rapidly. Modern cars are very well sealed and an airless environment can develop very quickly. Dogs should not be left in parked cars during the summer months.

Of course dogs do not only feel the heat when they are in cars. At Donaldson’s Vets, we regularly get animals brought in at this time of year who are suffering from heat stress. This can happen after energetic exercise in the heat of the day or even just from sunbathing in the garden. Caged animals like rabbits and hamsters should be kept out of windows in direct sunlight.

Heat stress happens when the bodys normal mechanisms for maintaining a constant core body temperature fail and the body temperature starts to rise.

Young dogs, as well as elderly dogs and those with breathing and heart problems are most at risk. Dogs with dense haircoats and those who are overweight have the most insulation and are also susceptible.

As these dogs are often in respiratory distress caused by their panting, they must not be doused in cold water to bring their temperature down. But a towel which has been soaked in cold water then draped over the dog will offer a controlled way to rapidly bring the temperature back to normal.

We all know how changeable the British weather can be so remember that the weather could be much warmer when you reach your destination than it was when you set off with your dog in the car.