Things Get Hotter Faster Than You Know
It seems common sense to animal lovers â€“ never leave your dog in a hot car. What is surprising to many is the discovery of just how hotâ€”and deadlyâ€” a vehicle can become on a day that feels merely warm to most of us.
A study performed by Stanford University found that even on a mild 72-degree day, a car’s internal temperature rockets to 116 degrees within one hour. (In fact, vehicular temperatures have been recorded as high as 159 degrees.) It’s enough to kill or seriously injure any pet (or person) left in the vehicle. Even cracking the windows will not make a significant difference to the extreme temperatures inside.
Dogs mainly rely on panting to cool down their bodies - a method that is not nearly as effective as sweating. Breeds with heavy coats and/or flat faces may succumb to heat faster, as will older dogs or those with medical conditions.
Signs of heatstroke in pets include:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Drooling or foaming at the mouth
- Purple tongue
- Bloody diarrhea
- Stupor or collapse
If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, act immediately. Bring them into the shade or a cooler climate, and cool them by submerging them in or placing rags soaked in lukewarm (NOT cold or ice cold) water on their body, focusing on their head and paw pads. Call or get them to a veterinarian ASAP.
What to Do If You See a Pet Trapped in a Vehicle
Try to find the vehicle’s owner. Alert the management of businesses near where the vehicle is parked. If the owner does not return quickly, call animal control or the police department immediately. Not only is it illegal for pet guardians to leave their animals in an enclosed vehicle under dangerous conditions, but law enforcement or animal control officers have the authority to break into a vehicle if they cannot locate an animal’s guardian after making a reasonable attempt to do so.
People often think they’ll “be back in a minute,” but it’s difficult to anticipate running into an old friend, being stuck in a line, or simply getting lost in the aisles. This summer, be kind to your four-legged friends and drop them off at home before running errands.
Other Tips For Beating The Heat With Your Pet
- Cars aren’t the only dangerous place for pets during the summer months. Any climate that is not temperature-controlled (including backyards and homes without air-conditioning) can turn deadly. Be aware of your surroundings and how they will affect your pet.
- A good rule of thumb is to test the ground your pet will be walking or laying on with your bare foot. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.
- If you like to exercise with your pet, dawn and dusk are generally the coolest parts of the day, and the least likely times for your pet to become overheated.
- Always carry a bowl and fresh, clean water with you so your pet can stay hydrated on-the-go.
- If you need to leave your pet outdoors, they must have access to plenty of drinking water and be sure there’s a shady area or children’s wading pool with a few inches of water for them to retreat to.
- If your dog has a heavy coat, get them a close-cropped summer haircut, leaving about an inch of hair to protect from sunburn. If you have a cat, brushing them frequently will thin out their coat and help regulate their temperature.
- Never leave your pet unattended near swimming pools or other bodies of water. Not only might they be a weak swimmer, but you also want be vigilant they don’t drink chlorinated or unsafe water. After swimming, remember to rinse them off to remove salt or chlorine from their coats.
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