Pets are dying from heatstroke because people are ignoring care advice and leaving animals in cars or taking dogs for walks in hot weather, leading charities have warned.
The latest figures for the RSPCA’s emergency hotline, released to HuffPost UK, show that between between July 1 and 22, inspectors received 1,806 calls about animals and heat exposure. Around 90% of these calls related to dogs left in hot cars.
Earlier in July, the animal welfare charity said a healthy five-year-old dog had died of heatstroke after being taken for a walk in the sun. Heatstroke develops when a dog or cat is unable to reduce their body temperature, and it can be fatal.
RSPCA officials say they have been left stunned by some of the excuses given to them by owners who have been caught leaving their pets in sweltering cars.
In one case, a man claimed his dog would be fine because “he was smiling”, when the stressed canine was clearly panting.
Other reasons included “I can’t help it if the shade moved” and “my dog is white, he’ll be fine”.
Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign manager Holly Barber, who works for the RSPCA, said: “We’ve been advising people not to leave pets in cars for decades now - but the simple message still isn’t getting through and, sadly, we’re still seeing animals die as a result of heatstroke.
“Please take extra care with your pets during hot weather and make sure they’re happy and healthy.
“Don’t take dogs out during the heat of the day, avoid walking on hot pavements and never, ever leave your pooch in a car unattended.”
Battersea Cats and Dogs Home said it was taking a variety of precautions to keep the 270 dogs and 200 cats currently in residence across its three London centres safe.
Paddling pools, wet towels and fans have been provided to keep the dogs cool, while the cats are enjoying air conditioning.
The charity is warning people not to become complacent when it comes to looking after their own pets.
Battersea’s head vet, Shaun Opperman, said: “With such an extended spell of hot weather it could be easy for pet owners to fall into their normal routines and even become complacent about the high temperatures.”
He said pet owners should “remain alert” to high temperatures and take plenty of precautions to keep their animals cool.
And it’s not just pets who are suffering. One of the leading animal rescue charities in the south west of England, Secret World, is working overtime after being inundated with wildlife rescues and has more than 700 animals under its specialist care.
Charity founder Pauline Kidner told the Weston Mercury that the charity was “extremely busy” and it is “all hands on deck”.
She said: “With so many animals needing to come in, some of our drivers have been out every day for the past three weeks.
“We have some animals such as badgers which are ready to be released but until the ground softens, there is no food out there for them, which is delaying their release.”