Warm weather is fast approaching, so I thought this would be the proper time to talk about leaving your dog in a hot car. We all know that when it’s warm outside, it’s even warmer in the car. Every year thousands of pets die from being left in hot cars while their “parents” go to work, shop or run errands. Within minutes the temperature inside a car can raise 10 degrees or more.
It just takes a few minutes of extreme heat to cause heat stroke, dehydration and even death to your dog. An Animal Protection Institute study shows that even moderately warm temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures inside a closed car. With an air temperature of 85 degrees, in ten minutes the temperature inside your car will be 102 degrees and in half an hour 120 degrees.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102 degrees, he can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees, but only for a short period of time before suffering brain damage and even death.
Dogs are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.
Heatstroke can come on quickly and result in brain damage or death. Watch for symptoms such as restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, or lack of coordination. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, get her or him into the shade immediately and call your veterinarian. Lower the animal’s body temperature gradually by providing water to drink, applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck, and chest, or immersing the dog in lukewarm (not cold) water.
You wouldn’t leave your kids in a hot car, so why would it be fine to leave your dog there? In many states, it’s against the law to leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle in a manner than endangers the health or safety of the animal. If you see a dog in a parking lot, locked in a hot car, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license-plate number, have the owner paged inside nearby stores, and call local humane authorities or police immediately, you might just save a life!