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Dogs in cars. Warning! Six minutes is all it takes…

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How long does it take to pull over and grab a coffee at a cafe? Six minutes? If you leave your pet in the car here in Singapore that’s how long it could take for your dog to die.

In a hard-hitting Australian campaign, pet owners are being asked to take a pledge to never leave their pets in the car. The RSPCA launched the Just Six Minutes campaign to highlight just how quickly an animal can die in a hot vehicle.

How hot can it get in a car?

The Australian RSPCA says research shows the temperature inside a car can reach more than 50 degrees celsius in less than five minutes when the temperature outside is 32.5 degrees celsius.

The average annual high in Singapore is 31 degrees celsius, so these statistics become very important here on the Little Red Dot.

Tests also show that leaving a window open, parking in the shade and tinted glass, only make a negligible difference to the car’s internal temperature.

Why do dogs die so quickly in hot cars?

Dogs only have sweat glands in their noses and paw pads and so have very limited areas from which to sweat.

They regulate their temperature through their respiratory system; as a dog breathes in through its nose, the air is cooled on the way to its lungs. If the air they breathe is very warm, or hot, they have to work harder to cool it. That is why they pant.

If your dog is panting excessively, he or she is too hot and needs to be moved to a cool place.

Dogs with flat or short faces, like pugs and bulldogs, will suffer even faster as they find it more difficult to breathe even in normal circumstances.

Overweight, old dogs, those with thick coats, and a high risk of heart disease may also die quicker than six minutes.

How does a dog with heatstroke behave?

At first a dog who is experiencing heatstroke will pant, drool and be agitated. After a few minutes the dog may become weak, lie down and their gums may change colour.

They may stagger around and be sick, or have diarrhoea or a seizure.

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke take them to the vet to be checked over even after you have tried to cool them down.

How to cool a dog down 

Bring your pet's body temperature down slowly, using a spray with cool water and a fan. Don’t put ice or very cold water on his or her bod. This may shock them and cool them down too rapidly.

You could rub cool water into the armpits, foot pads and groin area.

What to do if you see an animal in a hot car in Singapore

This is the advice from the Singapore SPCA’s FaceBook page -

“If you do see an animal left alone in a car, stay on the scene and alert the owner where you can. Try reaching the owner through the public address announcement system if the owner isn’t in sight.

Otherwise, please take down the car’s colour, model, make and licence plate number and quickly alert SPCA (at 62875355 extension 9, any time) and/or the police at 999.”

Want to know more?

See here for some more useful information from the Just Six Minutes campaign from the RSPCA in Australia.

The RSPCA is the equivalent of the SPCA in Singapore. R stands for Royal; Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good car, motorcycle and travel cover.
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