One dog owner was reported for animal cruelty over the weekend after “forgetting” that she had left her dog in her car in Baden, Lower Austria.
The dog collapsed in the heat and had to be treated at Tierklinik Traiskirchen, according to police.
“Cars can heat up extremely quickly,” warned Indra Kley, head of the Austrian branch of the animal charity Four Paws. “Even on less warm days, the inside of vehicles becomes very hot. In a short time the temperature inside the car can reach more than double the outside temperature.”
Dog owners can face fines of up to €7,500 if they are found to have left their dog in a hot car.
Vienna’s animal protection ombudsman, Eva Persy, says that many dog owners don’t realise that even leaving their dog for a short time whilst they run an errand is risking their life – and is considered animal cruelty.
Police in Austria are also legally entitled to break into a car if they see that a dog has been left unattended and is in danger.
In 2014 one Viennese dog owner was fined €3,300 after leaving their dog in the car in temperatures of 30C.
The window had been left slightly open, but when the police arrived the dog was found motionless on the passenger seat.
Dogs pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will sky-rocket to dangerous levels.
On very hot days, dog owners should limit exercise to early morning or evening hours and should carry water to keep their dog from dehydrating.
If it is really unavoidable that a dog must be left in a car, Four Paws says owners should try and park in the shade and ventilate the vehicle as much as possible.
Signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
To treat heatstroke apply wet towels to a pet’s head, neck, and chest, or run cool (but not cold) water over it. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes and take them directly to a vet.