Why you should never, ever leave your dog in the car.

It’s easy to forget things at this hectic time of year, your pets included.

But no matter how busy your Christmas preparations get it’s important never to leave your animals alone in the car – even if you are just popping out to get that one last thing on the shopping list.

According to the RSCPA, it only takes six minutes for a dog to die in a hot vehicle, probably less than the time it takes to run in and out of the supermarket.

In fact the speed at which a parked car can reach dangerous temperatures on a hot day is alarming, and it happens even when the windows are cracked.

Did you know that even on a mild day, the temperature inside your vehicle can easily double the temperature outside?

Don't forget about your pet. Image via RSPCA.

At just 22 degrees, your car can heat up to 47.2 degrees in under an hour, according to research from Stanford University.

"If you are unsure about how quickly your car can heat up, test yourself,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia said.

"Sit in your car on a warm day with the windows slightly cracked and you will see how quickly you become uncomfortable… for a dog, this can be life-threatening."

So what can you do to keep your furry friends safe this summer? Well, the company has some advice:

  • Feel how hot the footpath is before you walk your dog. If it is too hot for the back of your hand, it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Stick to the grass or walk in the cooler part of the day.
  • Have plenty of water available and keep water in the shade and out of heat-transferring containers like steel bowls. Plastic and ceramic are best.
  • Freeze water-filled containers for some giant ice-cube summer fun. Add some of your pet’s food to the water for extra enticement.
  • Walk your dog in the cool part of the day and take your dog some water.
  • If you suspect your dog is over heating or showing signs of distress after being exposed to heat, or over exercised seek veterinary treatment immediately.

And if you do see a sweltering pup in car that's not your own, here's how you can help.