SPCA urges dog owners to be vigilant after early spike in reports of dogs left in hot cars

The SPCA is urging dog owners not to leave dogs unattended in cars.
The SPCA is urging dog owners not to leave dogs unattended in cars. Photo credit: Supplied

The SPCA is urging dog owners to be vigilant following an early spike in reports of dogs left in hot cars.

The issue is usually highlighted in summer, but hotter than average spring temperatures across the country have led to an increase. 

Parts of the country have already seen highs of 28C which SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says can cause extreme temperatures in cars that are fatal for dogs. 

"A dark coloured car parked in full sun on a 22C day can reach an internal temperature of just 40C after just 10 minutes." 

Midgen says a dog's normal body temperature is 38.5C and when faced with heatstroke suffer a mortality rate of between 39 and 40 percent.

Heatstroke can also cause irreparable brain damage in dogs - and leaving the windows open a crack won't help either.

"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," Midgen says. 

Dogs only sweat through their paws and rely on panting to keep their bodies cool which isn't enough when they are stuck in a hot car. 

If a member of the public discovers a dog suffering from heatstroke the SPCA recommends they:

  • Move the dog into the shade or an air-conditioned area
  • Give the dog a small amount of lukewarm water to drink
  • Soak the dog's neck, abdomen, and inner thighs with lukewarm water
  • Take the dog to a vet as soon as possible

Members of the public are encouraged to call the police or local SPCA to retrieve a dog from a hot car rather than trying to break into the car themselves. 

SPCA inspectors have seen an increase in reports in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Otago, and Bay of Plenty. Dog owners can face a fine of $300 for leaving their dog unattended in a car.