THE RSPCA says it received more than 600 emergency calls about dogs suffering in hot weather in just two weeks.
It received the calls from June 11-24, and now the animal charity is warning that temperatures inside can reach deadly levels in a matter of minutes.
Out of 46 counties, Hampshire experienced the fourth highest number at 27 from people concerned for the welfare of dogs locked in hot vehicles. Top of the list was Greater London with 54 calls.
The warning came after police in York were forced to smash the windows of a car to rescue two dogs trapped for more than half an hour in the heat.
Last Monday alone the RSPCA was called 167 times - around one call every eight minutes.
Holly Barber, from the charity, said: “There is absolutely no reason or excuse that warrants risking your pet’s life by leaving them in a car on their own in this heat. People don’t believe it will happen to them or they tell themselves they’ll only be a minute, but it simply isn’t good enough.
“We’re pleading with people not to take the risk and to leave their pets at home where they will be safe and happy.”
According to the RSPCA, in extremes of heat it is not enough to leave a window open or rely on shade, which will gradually move.
Animal psychologist Roger Mugford said leaving dogs in hot vehicles for just minutes can be deadly.
“It’s a horrible, horrible death, and that death can come on within 10 minutes, so it’s very rapid,” he said.
“A car standing in direct sunlight can exceed 50C in two minutes and within 10 minutes the temperatures will be up in the 70s, and that can be lethal to a dog.”
The RSPCA says if a dog appears in distress such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting, you should call 999 immediately.
If a dog dies in a hot car its owner can face six months in prison and an unlimited fine under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.