Two dogs have died of avoidable heat stress in the last week, prompting the RSPCA to plead with pet owners to not leave dogs in parked cars – even in the shade.
One of the dogs died in a car after being locked in an underground car park with the windows wound down.
It only takes six minutes for an animal to die from heat stroke, RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David OShannessy said.
Cars parked in the sun can reach temperatures in excess of 80 degrees Celsius, and can remain dangerously hot even if the windows are open.
“Evidently, even cars parked in the shade – even in an underground carpark – can reach lethal temperatures. A dog cannot sweat in these conditions and panting increases the heat in the car,” Mr OShannessy said.
A number of dogs have died in hot conditions over the holiday break with the RSPCA investigating whether charges might be laid.
An owner can be fined $22,000 and given a two-year prison sentence if they are responsible for a dog dying after it is left in a car.
Tips to keep your animal cool:
- extra bowls of water in case one is accidentally tipped over
- takeaway containers filled with beef/chicken stock, frozen overnight and given to outdoor animals
- ice cubes in water bowls. Be careful, as some animals will avoid drinking the water if they are concerned about the floating ice cubes. A good alternative is to freeze half a water bowl the night before and top the remainder up with cool water when putting out
- paddling pools (clams are especially popular) filled with water and under your supervision
- never leave dogs in cars, even with the windows down, and even in the shade — dogs can’t sweat; heat stress and death can occur in as little as six minutes
- always walk your dog in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat of the day
- ensure pets have easy access to shade and water throughout the day, including extra shade areas in your backyard using shade cloths and shade umbrellas
- spray pet birds with a mist pump spray bottle (only if they like it!) or install a bird bath for supervised use
- cool a ceramic tile or oven pan in the fridge or freezer and put it out for small dogs and cats to lie on
- for pocket pets, little bags of ice wrapped in small, wet towels provide heat relief
- allow your outdoor animals to come inside the house and share the air conditioning or electric fan.
Symptoms of heat stress in animals:
- excessive panting for dogs
- any kind of panting or increase in breathing for cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets or Guinea Pigs
- dark red gums or tongue