Hayley Matthews: This is what happens to a dog in a hot car

I know we don't get the best weather in Scotland and, all too often, it's just that muggy sensation that suggests summer is around the corner.

Dogs should not be left locked in a car on a warm day (Picture: Getty)

But when it is warm, we still carry on with the attitude that the sun’s just out for an hour or so and carry on with our day. In reality we need to take it really seriously (moan alert) because even if we don’t get it that often, sunshine still comes with potential dangers.

The one that leaves me utterly dumbfounded is the dogs-in-hot-cars issue. So many times I see dogs sitting in a car on a warm day (that’s all it takes – just for it to be warm) and fear they will die as they pace about with their tongues gasping for cool air.

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With the RSPCA reporting on Monday that they received 217 calls about dogs locked in cars on the hottest Bank Holiday on record, it’s an alarming fact just how stupid and ignorant we can be about the heat. It kills, so why are people still leaving dogs in their cars?

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Here's what you should do if you see a dog in a car on a hot day

Does it come down to lack of thought, ignorance or stupidity? If you’re going to leave a dog or any pet in a car on a warm/hot day, surely you must realise that the outcome won’t be a pleasant one.

We love our pets and boast about being a nation of dog lovers, spending £6 billion every year on fancy collars, high-quality food and expensive vets bills to keep ‘man’s best friend’ pampered. So to put our little furry friends at such risk is beyond any comprehension.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If I see a dog in trouble, panting heavily and struggling for breath in a car, I’d happily crack a window to save your dog’s life. The law states you should phone the police and the SSPCA. However, when a dog is about to die due to suffocating in a car at the hands of an ignorant owner I’d happily take the criminal damage charge to save a life – dog or human.

If it was your dog/pet and it was about to die due to the heat and lack of oxygen, I’m sure that after weighing up the pros and cons of losing a window to avoid a pet death is one that is an easy decision – or should be for someone from a nation of animal lovers.

Children have died in cars when the temperature has been as low as 63 degrees Fahrenheit (about 17C) because the car acts like a greenhouse.

At 70 degrees on a sunny day, the temperature inside a car can hit 104 degrees after 45 minutes. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees.

Leaving a baby or a child in a car is an entirely different subject and I reckon I’d need at least half the Evening News’ pages to lambast anyone leaving a young child in a car, on their own, on a hot day!

There isn’t enough jail time possible for that crime but for now, back to the dogs. It’s a real issue for dogs, being left in a car with no windows open because they cool down through their tongues. Dogs do sweat through their paw pads, but it’s by panting that dogs circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down.

If there’s no cool air coming in, then it’s a no-brainer that the dog will be in serious danger of death within a short space of time.