Police officers smashed down the windows of a boiling hot car to rescue a little dog left inside.

The animal was distressed when it was spotted in a car park by concerned members of the public.

It happened on Monday, one of the hottest days of the year when temperatures climbed to 33c.

The pet was taken to the vet where he was checked over and treated, and was not left with any lasting injuries.

Suitable action was taken against the owner.

The incident happened in the Royals Car Park in Southend, Essex, but is a stark reminder of how to look after pets in the heat.

Here are tips on how to look after your dog as the heatwave continues:

1. Walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day

Avoid peak temperatures and take them out in the early morning and late evening when it’s cooler outside. There is likely to be more shade then too, which will protect your dog from direct sun exposure.

2. Add ice cubes to their dog bowl to keep the water cool

Ensuring your dog has access to fresh water is always essential, but when it’s this hot, it’s even more important, as is changing it more regularly than usual. Adding a few ice cubes to the water helps to keep it cool for longer, and ice cubes also make appetising treats or pet-friendly ice lollies, which will boost hydration too. Keep one bowl outside in the shade and one inside to ensure there’s water available at all times.

3. Set up a paddling pool for your dog

If your dog likes water, fill up a paddling pool or (empty) sand pit and set it out in the shade for your dog to splash about in to cool off. This works well as an activity for dogs when it’s too hot for a midday walk.

4. Use pet safe sun cream

Protect your dog’s skin from sunburn by applying sun cream on parts that are exposed, such as the nose and tips of their ears. Be particularly cautious with hairless breeds as they are more susceptible to burning.

5. Put out damp towels for your dog

Wet some towels and set them out in the shade for your dog to lie on. Dampened towels are a simple way to keep your dog cool and encourage your dog to rest rather than pace around in the heat. Alternatively, a frozen water bottle wrapped in a towel for your dog to lie beside works too.

6. Take care of your dog’s paws

Pavements can become so hot they can burn your pooch’s paw pads. A general guide is, if it’s too hot for you to touch for longer than five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog. Opt for shaded routes and exercise your dog on grass where possible.

7. Avoid the car when it’s hot – and never leave your dog alone in it

Even when parked in the shade with the car windows open, temperatures in cars can rise extremely quickly, which could cause your dog to dehydrate, develop heat stroke and could be fatal. If your dog must travel in the car, stop for regular water breaks to keep them hydrated.