Hot Cars Kill Dogs | Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

Hot Cars Kill Dogs

  • More than one in 10 people know of a dog that has come to harm left in a parked car in hot weather
  • Almost half of us (48%) mistakenly believe it is ok to leave a dog in a car if counter-measures are taken (window open or parked in shade)
  • Brits are far more likely to leave their dog in a car alone for a few minutes (28%) than their phone (10%)
  • Over a quarter of UK dog owners admit to leaving their dog alone in parked cars
  • AA call outs to rescue dogs locked in parked cars has increased by 50% in past six years

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, today launches a hard-hitting campaign to warn dog owners of the dangers of leaving their pets in parked cars, even for a few minutes.  With more hot weather expected this summer, and more people taking to the road with their dogs over the May bank holiday and half term, Dogs Trust aims to highlight this urgent and dangerous issue before more beloved pets suffer.

Research unveiled as part of Dogs Trust’s campaign shows that despite being a nation of dog lovers, more than one in four UK dog owners admitted to leaving their dogs unattended in cars. Almost half of us (48%) believe it is ok to leave a dog in a car if counter-measures are taken, such as parking under a tree or leaving a window open. Unfortunately, this is a myth - in reality partially lowering the window has no significant effect on the temperature inside a parked car*.

Under 20 minutes in a hot car can prove fatal to a dog should its body temperature exceed 41°C. As the temperature inside the car rises, in just a matter of minutes, the dog’s suffering will become evident through excessive panting, whimpering or barking. This will develop into a loss of muscle control and ultimately the kidneys will cease to function, the brain will become irreversibly damaged and the heart will stop.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, comments:

“We claim to be a nation of dog lovers, but it’s shocking how many people are willing to put man’s best friend in serious danger. As soon as the car doors are shut the countdown begins - which could potentially end in an agonising death for the dog. Our message is simple: don’t leave your dog in a parked car.”


In addition to Dogs Trust’s research, the AA has disclosed that the number of potentially fatal incidents involving dogs trapped in cars has risen by over 50% in the last six years. AA Patrols are most commonly called out by worried owners who have accidentally locked their keys in the car with their pet. Since the start of April this year the AA has attended more than 150 breakdowns because of a pet locked in the car.


AA Patrol of the Year, Mark Spowage comments:

“The dangers are obvious; you just have to touch the dashboard or seats to know how hot the inside of a car can get. But it's not just on warm days when dogs are at risk – vehicles can be death-traps even in cooler temperatures.


Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust CEO comments:

“Every year we hear the inevitable and highly distressing media reports that another dog has been subjected to the horrific ordeal of being left to die in a hot car. The saddest thing is that these dogs are often much loved family pets but the owners simply do not appreciate how quickly a dog can die in a hot car where temperatures can reach the same as an oven.”


Dogs Trust vets have issued the following advice to pet owners and concerned animal lovers:

  • Don’t leave your dog in a parked car, even for a few minutes- even if it seems cool outside it can become very hot very quickly. Parking in the shade and/or keeping the windows down does not make it safe!
  • If you see a dog in distress in a parked car call the Police Service (101) or the RSPCA(SSPCA in Scotland)
  • Make sure you keep your dog as cool as possible when driving: avoid travelling during the heat of the day, use sun blinds on the windows and consider opening a window a little to allow a cooling breeze to circulate in the vehicle
  • Make sure you have a supply of water and know where you can stop off en route for water breaks. Dogs are not able to cool down as effectively as humans so could suffer from heat stroke and dehydration very quickly
  • If you are present at the rescue of a dog from a hot car that is clearly in distress, seek immediate veterinary advice. The very first priority is to prevent the dog from getting any hotter, attempt to provide shade from the sun and move to a cooler area. Dampening the dog down with cool (but not freezing) water will help start to bring the body temperature down.
  • Wet towels can be used to cool a dog but these must be regularly changed or spraying them down with water and placing them in front of the air conditioning vent to enhance evaporation on the way to the emergency appointment.


Dogs Trust has created a time-lapse video in support of this campaign, featuring a melting ice sculpture of a dog locked in a car. Watch the video here


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact:

Dogs Trust:


Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for nearly 17,000 dogs each year through its network of 18 Rehoming Centres across the UK and one in Dublin.

For more information about the charity’s work please visit



About the research The research referenced in this document surveyed 2000 adults across the UK in April 2014. It was conducted by Vision Critical on Dogs Trust’s behalf.

About Dogs Trust’s ‘Hot Dogs’ Campaign In a world first, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has commissioned a life-sized ice sculpture of a dog locked in a car on a summer’s day. In an alarming and honest interpretation of the issue, a time-lapse video of the ice sculpture will depict the deterioration and distress of the dog as the minutes tick by. * Veterinary Forensics Melinda D Merck, DM