A dog left in a hot car has prompted warnings from an animal welfare group to be vigilant with pets in cars as temperatures soar.

Auckland woman Aleisha Taylor posted on social media pictures of a dog trapped in a car in Beach Haven last night.

When contacted by the Herald, Taylor said her partner first noticed the dog in the locked car in a residential street as they were driving past about 7.30pm.

"The windows were fogged up so we turned around."

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The high in Auckland yesterday was 25C.

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Taylor said the couple were unsure how long the biggish dog had been in the car when they happened upon the scene but said he was panting heavily and wet at the mouth.

Unlike humans, dogs are unable to sweat. They rely mainly on their respiratory tract to dissipate heat.

"God knows how long he was in there for, because it takes a while for windows to fog up."

The couple rang the SPCA, police, fire brigade and animal management at Auckland Council.

Council staff found a contact number for the owner of the car and messaged her about the dog. The process took about 30 minutes.

Taylor, 22, a dog lover, said a woman emerged from a nearby house and freed the dog from the car.

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"She said: 'Oh I picked him up and I forgot he was in there'. I was like: "What do you mean you forgot he was in there?

"I said to her: 'You're lucky he's actually alive'. It was definitely a relief he was out of that car."

Taylor accepted the incident was a genuine mistake but said it should serve as a reminder to all pet owners about animals in hot cars.

"I know accidents happen and no-one knows what was running through the lady's mind when she forgot, but a small mistake could be a fatal one."

She suggested owners put a bell on the dog's collar or set an alarm on their phone to remind them about the pooch's presence in the car.

Temperature inside a locked car increases much faster than outside air temperature - 21C can turn into 31C in 10 minutes and 37C in 20 minutes.

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Paw Justice co-founder Craig Dunn said dogs left in hot cars was a common occurrence.

"It's really sad that people just leave their dogs. Dogs are like humans - they need that fresh air coming in.

"You imagine trying to sit in that car yourself and try to survive that heat with no air-con."

Dunn said people needed to be vigilant.

"You wouldn't leave your baby in the car so don't leave your dog in the car. To say it's got water is not adequate.

"It is a common mistake and it does happen. If you think 'Oh I've left the dog unattended'. That's too late. The dog could die.

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"It just comes down to responsible pet ownership, which I think people want to be, but I think they need to be very vigilant in this weather.

"What happens if your dog dies? You're losing one of your family members."

In August, an American police dog died after being left in a hot car by his dog handler.

Children and animals die each year in hot vehicles around the world when parents and owners forget they are in the car.