What to do if you see a dog in a hot car.

If you see a distressed dog in a hot car, report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 278 358 (1300 CRUELTY), or call WA Police on 131 444.

  1. Identify signs of heatstroke
  2. Note down the vehicle's registration number and location and report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 278 358 (1300 CRUELTY) or call WA Police on 131 444.
  3. If you're at a shopping centre, ask the centre management to page the owner of the vehicle by reading out the registration details.
  4. Keep an eye on the dog until help arrives, but maintain a suitable distance to ensure you don't agitate the dog, which could cause further distress, making the dog even hotter.
  5. Gather as much evidence as possible (vehicle details, time and date, photos of the dog in the vehicle).


Important information about the effects of leaving a dog in a hot car:


Dogs and hot cars are a fatal mix

Leaving your dog in the car for "just a few minutes" may be too long. Just don't do it!

The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach double the outside temperature and kill a dog in just six minutes.

Window tinting, parking in the shade or leaving the windows down provides little or no relief.

Because dogs cool down by panting (breathing in air that is cooler than their body temperature) they can't regulate their temperature if they are left in a hot car.

When the temperature outside is a mild 22°C, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to over 47°C in a matter of minutes. Dogs in these conditions can suffer an agonising death.


The longer you're away from your car, the more dangerous it becomes

Dogs in hot cars temperature increase over timeTests performed by Victoria's Metropolitan Ambulance Service on a 29°C day, with the car's air-conditioning having cooled the interior to 20°C, showed that it took just 10 minutes for the temperature to reach 44°C.

In a further 10 minutes, it had tripled to a deadly 60.2°C!

1.  Cooling mechanisms kick in - around 2 minutes

  • panting and drooling starts
  • blood vessels dilate

2.  Blood pressure is affected - around 5 minutes

  • The heart works harder to supply blood to the dilated vessels
  • Blood starts to pool in organs
  • Blood pressure begins to drop

3.  Organs start to become damaged - around 8 minutes

  • Kidney cells suffer thermal damage
  • Small blood clots form, causing more kidney damage
  • The cells lining the intestine and stomach suffer thermal damage, leading to severe bloody diarrhoea and vomitting
  • Tiny blood clots form in the brain and the brain swells

4. After the body reaches 43°C

  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Seizures, coma and death


Signs of heatstroke

Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke can lead to DIC - a bleeding disorder known colloquially by vets as "death is coming" syndrome.

DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) can lead to death within hours, or even days after the dog has been removed from the hot car.


Dogs at risk of heatstroke

All animals are at risk of heatstroke. However, some dogs have a higher chance of running into serious problems.

Flat-faced dogs (brachycephalic breeds) have serious difficulty breathing because of their short muzzles, which means in hotter weather they can struggle to cool themselves. Bracycephalic breeds are 146% more likely to suffer heatstroke that other dog breeds.

Other factors that can heighten the risk:

Risk Factors for Heatstroke


Treating Heatstroke

If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, move them to a cool, shaded area and call a vet immediately.

For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.

Shade icon Move them to a shaded or cool area.
Immediately douse the dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan.
Drink icon Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
Douse the dog icon Continue dousing the dog with cool water until their breathing starts to settle, but never so much that they begin to shiver.
Emergency icon Heatstroke is an emergency! It is always better to be safe and have the dog checked out by a vet, even if they appear to be recovering.

The effects of heatstroke can be long-lasting, causing serious long-term health problems such as organ damage. Damage can continue to happen hours, or even days, after the animal is removed from the hot car, so vet treatment is essential.



It is an offence to confine an animal anywhere, including in a vehicle, where it suffers, or is likely to suffer, and owners can face prosecution.

People who leave their dog in a hot car on a hot day can be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act (2002) and face a maximum penalty of $50,000 or five years' imprisonment, and a lengthy prohibition order preventing them from owning an animal for a period of time determined by the courts.

Remember: A quick visit to the shops could cost your dog their life. Don't put your dog's life at risk.

If you love your dog, leave them at home where they are safe. It's better to leave them at home for a short time, than to lose them forever.

Take a pledge to never leave your dog in a hot car.

Download the Dogs in Hot Cars flier.