Now that the summer has finally come, I'm looking forward to taking day trips with my family and our new six-month-old Springer Spaniel. He's great and enjoys the outdoors. But if there is somewhere we cannot take him inside, how long can we leave him in the car for? Ashley Lewis, London
This is the time of year that we should absolutely avoid, wherever possible, taking our dogs in the car – and we should never, ever leave them in there! There are still so many dogs that die in hot cars, even with all the campaigning the RSPCA and other animal charities have done. Just last week the RSPCA reported that animal neglect was sadly on the increase. I love taking my dogs out on day trips, but only when I know that the place I'm going to is dog-friendly. Do your research; plan ahead. When I set out for long journeys, I first check the weather forecast and if it's going to be a hot day I go early to miss the heat. I make sure that the car is well ventilated and that the dogs have access to water. There is always the option of leaving your dog at home if he has access to a garden. If not, arrange with a friend or a professional dog-walker to visit him every four hours to make sure he's got enough water and to take him out for a walk. This is not ideal, but it's better than the dog being stuck in the car for any period of time ... Heat-related problems can happen quickly. Do not risk it! The consequences can be tragic and are perfectly avoidable.
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Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended