The RSPCA has hit out at owners who left their dogs in hot cars over the weekend, despite repeated warnings about the dangers.

The animal welfare charity was inundated with hundreds of complaints over the weekend from people who spotted animals suffering as the temperature rocketed to 90 degrees in some parts of the country.

Around 70 calls about animals trapped in hot cars in the South East came into the RSPCA National Control Centre over the weekend of 6-7 July.

We also received a further 280 calls across the rest of England and Wales, and unfortunately the heat wave also claimed a number of lives across the country.

A seven-year old female Staffordshire bull terrier died after being left in a car outside a pub while the owners had Sunday lunch (7 July) in Bradford, West Yorkshire. A woman and two men have been interviewed.

In another incident, a two- year old Rottweiler cross was pulled dead out of a hot car outside their owner’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester. The RSPCA attended after a call from police just after 6pm on Sunday (7 July). A woman has been interviewed.

RSPCA chief inspector Dermot Murphy: “The death of those dogs was an avoidable tragedy. Leaving a dog in a hot car has the same kind of effect as putting it in a microwave. They are literally cooked alive, in what is a horrendous death.

“People just aren’t listening. Leaving a window open simply isn’t enough, and in-car temperatures rise quickly, even if it’s cloudy.”

“What people need to realise is that the next animal to die in a hot car, conservatory or outbuilding could be their pet – that’s how serious this is.”

All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect them from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences. Even a hot garden without shade can be disastrous for an animal.

As an example, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 47 degrees within 60 minutes when the outside temperature is just 22 degrees.