THE PDSA is urging owners to remember that ‘not long’ is too long when it comes to leaving dogs (or any pet) in cars.

The vet charity is also raising awareness of what to do if you come across a distressed dog in a car.

Even parked in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly become like an oven. Many pet owners believe it will never happen to them, yet every year people gamble with their beloved dogs’ lives, and every summer we hear tragic stories of dogs who have died after being left in a car.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Dogs only sweat through their paws so they mainly rely on panting to cool them down. This means when the air is baking hot around them, they can’t cool down very well. Trapped in a hot car, dogs can quickly succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal without urgent medical attention. Even if they don’t get heatstroke, imagine how painful, distressing and frightening it must be for them being trapped and overheating.”

If you see a dog left in a car, first check if they are displaying any signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a serious illness which happens when a pet overheats and their body temperature rises. It’s an emergency situation and needs treatment right away.

Ask yourself these questions to spot a dog in distress from heatstroke: Is the dog panting heavily?; Is the dog drooling excessively?; Does the dog appear lethargic, drowsy, or uncoordinated?; Is the dog collapsed or vomiting?

If yes to one or more of the above, the dog could be showing early or advanced signs of heatstroke and immediate action should be taken by calling 999.

Olivia added: “Don’t be afraid to dial 999 – the police deal with hundreds of similar incidents each year. You can also report the incident to the RSPCA, but the police have powers of entry which means they can legally break into the car to rescue the dog."