AA Ireland has teamed up with Dogs Trust to try and educate owners about the dangers of leaving pets in cars, even for short periods.
“What tends to happen is that owners step out of the car and leave the keys in the ignition. Then the dog jumps up on the central locking button,” said Lar Byrne from AA Ireland. “We’ve had emergency call-outs where multiple dogs have been locked into vehicles. I remember one where six dogs were trapped.”
Last year, dogs featured in more than 350 AA Ireland call-outs.
The AA is asking owners not to leave their pets alone in any sort of vehicle.
“It is crucially important not to leave dogs in hot cars,” said veterinary surgeon Renagh Kelly. “Many owners believe it is OK to leave a dog in a car if counter-measures are taken, such as parking under a tree or leaving a window open. Unfortunately, this is a myth. In reality, partially lowering the window has no significant effect on the temperature inside a parked car. Just a few minutes in a hot car can prove fatal for a dog.”
Ms Kelly said that dogs should never be left in a car during warm weather, even if it feels cool outside and, if you have to travel with a dog in the car, it is important to provide plenty of water, avoid the heat of midday, and consider using a car sunblind to provide shade.
Outside the car, dogs can also suffer from sunstroke and sunburn — owners should buy special pet sun cream, not human sun cream, which could be toxic to dogs, and apply to easily burned areas such as the nose, ears and belly.
“Facing a higher risk are dogs with white or light- coloured hair and those with short or no hair at all,” said Ms Kelly.
Older and overweight dogs are more prone to overheating. In emergencies, dogs should be wet thoroughly and sat in front of a cool fan.
Urgent veterinary attention should be sought if the dog shows signs of distress, such as excessive panting, blueness of the tongue or collapsing.