Even in just a few minutes, temperatures inside vehicles can rise rapidly, and dogs feel the effects and can become very distressed.
Please also remember that the same applies in conservatories and caravans – these are not suitable for dogs to be left in when the weather is warm. Always ensure that your pets have plenty of cool, fresh drinking water available to them
There is a dog in a vehicle that appears hot and distressed, what should I do?
This does depend on the level of distress.
It is not generally advisable to force entry to the vehicle yourself.
If the animal is showing signs of elevated distress, such as very heavy panting, windows steamed up, or worse still the animal is panting heavily and lethargic, contact the Police giving as much information as you can about the vehicle, registration number and location. Please wait and make yourself known to the attending Officer. If the owner returns, please update the Police.
If the matter is getting near life or death for the animal this should be a 999 call to Police stressing the urgency. If the Police don’t have time to get there, then you have to decide if you should take action.
It is not advisable to force entry to the vehicle yourself. Your first step should be to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 to inform them of the details namely, the condition of the dog, the registration number and location of the car. A dog warden service may also be able to help. They should despatch an inspector/warden to deal with the situation if s/he can. S/he will call the police if it is necessary to break into the car.
The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if:
The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).
DON’T DO THIS UNLESS CERTAIN OF YOUR GROUND AND ARE PREPARED TO DEFEND YOUR ACTIONS AT COURT.
If the animal is starting to show distress but is not life threatening, try to locate the owner to make them aware. You can still advise Police on 101 of the vehicle details in order to try and make contact with the registered keeper to make them aware. If you are in a car park anywhere that may have a public address system, ask for an announcement to be put out.
For more information on what to do, and helping animals that are suffering heatstroke, please visit