AN RSPCA inspector is sending out an urgent warning after he discovered a dog left in a van in over 31-degree heat in Southampton.

Now, owners are being warned that dogs can die in hot cars following the incident on Saturday.

While the temperature at the time was 15 degrees across the city, the shih tzus' owner was working in a shop nearby and said they "didn't realise it was going to be too warm".

The dog was okay despite the inspector measuring a 31.8-degree temperature inside the van.

And the animal welfare charity is now urging people not to leave dogs in cars, as the weather is expected to be warmer this week.

RSPCA inspector Graham Hammond said: "The owner came back to the car within 5 minutes of me being there.

“They were working in a shop nearby and said they didn’t realise it was going to be too warm.

“Shih tzus are one of the worst affected by heat because of their flat faces so I was very concerned but luckily they were okay.

“We’ve never dealt with anyone who meant to kill their dogs in their car, but it still happens, and people still risk their dog’s lives in this way. Even, it seems, in times like these.”

The charity has told people never to leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in warm weather, even if for a short while.

When it is 22 degrees, a cara can reach 47 degrees within an hour, according to inspectors.

Graham added: “When I went back to my van after dealing with the dogs I put my thermometer inside to check the temperature and it was 31.8 degrees.

“If you need to go anywhere, do not take your pet and leave them in your car.”

If anyone sees a dog in a car on a warm day, they should check the animal and try to establish how long they have been unattended in the vehicle.

If the dog is in distress or displaying any sign of heatstroke - such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting - witnesses are urged to call 999 immediately and request police.

To call the RSPCA’s emergency cruelty line, contact 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, people are urged to call 999.

To donate to the RSPCA during the coronavirus outbreak, visit