Riders have been urged to consider whether to take their dogs to competitions in the current hot weather – and warned never to leave them in hot cars or lorries.

As the RSPCA revealed it has had 625 calls about animals in hot environments in the past two weeks, mainly relating to dogs in hot cars, a spokesman issued advice to those riding or spectating at equestrian events.

“Consider whether it’s best for your dog to go to the event with you or to stay at home,” she said.

“If coming with you, ensure you have access to shade and take lots of water. Never, ever leave dogs shut inside stationary vehicles such as cars or horseboxes.”

The RSPCA said that despite years of campaigning, by itself as well as police, other charities and authorities, people continue to put their dogs’ lives at risk by leaving them alone in vehicles in hot weather.

The charity also revealed some of the excuses given to inspectors by owners on returning to vehicles in which dogs were left.

These include “My dog is white, he’ll be fine”, “it’s ok, I’m a vet”, “My kid’s in the car with the dog [a five-month-old baby strapped in a car seat]” and “I’ve only been in the pub half an hour and it’s ok, I run a dog rescue centre”.

RSPCA campaign manager Holly Barber, who runs the dogs die in hot cars campaign, added: “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.”

As the RSPCA said that on Monday (25 June) it received 167 calls about dogs in hot cars, comparison website Confused.com carried out a social experiment.

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It found, in a three-day trial, that only one in 100 passers-by stopped to help a fake dog “whimpering” alone in a car in 30C heat.

“Motorists, passengers and the public in general are being urged to be especially vigilant during the summer months and on the lookout for dogs that could have been left in a car on a warm day by careless owners,” said a spokesman.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

In this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on 28 June, is a full report from the Hickstead Derby meeting, a six-page report from Royal Ascot, a feature on the much-discussed whip rules and, in this week’s ‘vet clinic’, find out how to spot the signs of sand colic.