DOGS continue to die in hot cars every summer, the British Veterinary Association has warned.

Canine pets struggle as the temperature rises, said the BVA, as they cannot cool down quickly through sweating, leaving them vulnerable to overheating.

They can also succumb to heatstroke as a result of over-exertion on walks and day trips.

The association has put forward a seven-point action plan to avoid doggie distress.

It advises not leaving dogs in cars and making sure they have adequate water to drink; providing proper ventilation and avoiding exercising dogs in the heat of the day; providing shade, watching for early signs of heatstroke such as heavy panting and contacting a vet if the animal does not respond to efforts to cool it down.

Vet Robin Hargreaves, president of the BVA, said: "Most people know that dogs should never be left in cars by themselves, even when the day is warm as opposed to hot.

"But it can be tempting to ignore advice if you think you won’t be gone for long.

"Leaving the car window open and a bowl of water is not enough. As a dog can only cool down through its tongue and paw pads it cannot react quickly enough with the rapidly rising heat inside the car."

Vet Tony Buxton, who lectures at Liverpool University, said: "Dogs are also vulnerable to heatstroke while out walking or exercising.

"One dog walk took his client’s border collie out and did the normal routine of ball throwing and chase games.

"The dog willingly went along until he got so over-heated he couldn’t stand up.

"A dog won't stop enjoying itself because it is hot; so it is up to the owner to stop the animal before it suffers."

The BVA advise that if heatstroke is suspected dogs should be taken to a cool, well-ventilated place and given water to drink. Dogs can also be cooled with a fan or by covering them with a wet towel.

If the dog fails to respond owners should get advice from a vet immediately.