SEEING a dog in distress in a hot car would no doubt cause concern for most of us.

An article about police rescuing a dog trapped in a hot car parked on Malvern Retail Park during last week's heatwave has sparked debate about what you should do.

The RSPCA and other animal organisations have released the following guidelines about what to do if you see a dog trapped in a car during hot weather.

* Establish the dog's health/condition. What is the dog doing - are they panting or drooling?

* If the dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke call 999 immediately. The police will inform the RSPCA of the incident if animal welfare assistance is required.

* Signs of heatstroke include panting heavily, drooling excessively, dog appearing lethargic, drowsy or unco-ordinated, dog collapses or vomits.

Are you allowed to smash the car window?

If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are far away or can't attend most people's instinct may be to smash the window.

However, without proper justification it could be classed as criminal damage and the actions may need to be defended in court.

* Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why

* Take images and footage of the dog

* Take the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident

* The law says you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe the owner of the property would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971)

If the dog is showing signs of heatstroke and has been removed from the car, for the best chance of survival:

* They need to have their body temperature lowered gradually

* Take them to a shaded/cool area

* Immediately poor room temperature (not cold) water onto the dogs to avoid shock.

* If possible, use wet towels or place the dog in the breeze of a fan

* Let the dog drink small amounts of water

* Keep pouring small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but never too much they start to shiver

* Take them immediately to the vets once they are cool

If the situation is dangerous for the dog always call 999 but if you are looking for advice call the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.