Hot Car = Death for a Dog!!!
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 21, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Dogs
With the hotter weather either here or approaching, it seems only logical that a dog, cat, child or any other living creature, should not be left in a car. However, logic seems to go “out the window” for many people as authorities still get hundreds if not thousands of “dog in a hot car” calls each summer.
Don’t think that your car will get hot only if it’s in the sun. A vehicle heats up about 20 Fahrenheit degrees hotter than the outside temperature EVEN IN THE SHADE and EVEN IF THE WINDOWS ARE OPEN!!!
Just how hot does a car get?
A study done by the Animal Protection Institute clearly showed how dangerous it is to leave a dog in a vehicle, even in moderately warm temperatures, with windows cracked.
Here is what some of the readings looked like:
Outside temperature 30 C (86 F)
Temperature inside car with windows closed 46 C (115 F)
Temperature inside car with 2 windows cracked 41 C (105 F)
Temperature inside car with 4 windows cracked 39 C (103 F)
Really important to know that these readings were taken in a shaded area..NOT in the SUN!!!
In temperatures like these a dog can suffer heat exhaustion within minutes, leading to heat stroke and death. Each year, authorities lay charges against careless pet owners whose animals either died from being left in a hot car, or would have died if not for the intervention of horrified on-lookers.
Dogs cannot, like us, cool down by sweating, nor can they peel off a layer of clothing (or fur). Their only means of cooling themselves is through panting and drinking water. In temperatures this high (or even considerably lower than those above) a dog cannot adequately cool itself and quickly overheats.
These are some of the signs of heat stroke in dogs
• body temperatures of 104-110F (40-44C) degrees
• excessive panting
• dark or bright red tongue and gums
• sticky or dry tongue and gums
• bloody diarrhea or vomiting
Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, like as Bulldogs, Boxers and Pugs), large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke.
Our best advice this summer is not to take your dog on a car trip with you, if there is a chance you will need to leave them in the car in the heat and that means even if just for a few minutes for a quick errand. If this is unavoidable, make sure someone comes with you, to stay in the car, in the shade, with the windows and doors wide open, taking the dogs out of the car and offering lots of fresh, cool water.
If you are alone and the above scenario isn’t possible, here are some creative ideas.
• Use the drive-through if possible. This works for some restaurants, banks, and pharmacies.
• Shop in pet-welcome stores. Pet stores typically allow pets, and they do carry “human” items like candy and snacks.
• Utilize a travel kennel outside the car, in the shade, if possible. Enlist the help of a shopkeeper to watch your dog while you do what you need to do. Use common sense and caution with this tip; not for use in parking lots, not in an area where your pet could be pestered by bystanders, etc., etc. In general, travel kennels are a great way to keep your pet safe while in fresh air, with cool water, and so on.
If you see an animal or a child in a hot vehicle (children die this way each year too!!), do your part to prevent animal (and child) abuse and neglect. Call a shelter, animal control or police immediately! If you are uncomfortable reporting a problem, please find assistance through a store manager, friend or family member to help those in need. Getting involved can and does save lives 🙂
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan