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Take care of your dog in hot weather


As summer approaches the New Forest Dog Owners Group is warning pet owners to be careful in hot weather. The warning is especially important this year as many families have bought their first pets during lockdown. They may not realise the danger of a hot summer day.


Top tips include walking dogs in the early morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler and there is a reduced risk of heatstroke particularly if a dog is unfit, obese or suffers from breathing difficulties. Tarmac can get very hot in the sun – check it with a hand before letting the dog walk on it.


If owners are planning a day out, check whether dogs are welcome at the visitor attractions you plan to visit. If dogs are not permitted, arrange for a pet sitter or kennels, or choose a dog friendly alternative attraction. Make sure the dog has access to shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day.


Don’t let pets get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of their skin such as the tips of their ears and nose.


Several charities including the RSPCA are also worried about the inexperience of new dog owners. It has launched a campaign called ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’. The RSPCA say many people still believe that it's ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but the truth is, it's still a very dangerous situation for the dog. A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm. When it's 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.


In an emergency, the RSPCA advises that it’s essential to establish the animal's health and condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke, such as panting heavily, drooling, vomiting or collapsed, dial 999 immediately. If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog.


But the charity warns that if someone decides to do this, without proper justification this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, may lead to the need to defend your actions in court. It advises to make sure the police are informed about the proposed action and why, and to take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident.


Make a note of the car's registration and if the owner returns, but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you may still report the incident to the police.


If the incident is at a shop, venue or event, ask the staff to make an announcement to alert the owner of the situation. If possible, get someone to stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If they begin to display signs of distress or heatstroke, be prepared to dial 999.