It’s that time of year when we have to remind everyone to NEVER leave their dog in the car when the weather is warm, and definitely not when it’s hot! Cracking the windows does very little to keep the car cool on a warm day. It doesn’t take very high temperatures or a very long time to make a car a death trap. Even a car parked in the shade can reach dangerous temperatures on a hot day, and if it’s in the sun, the temperature can reach 160 degrees in minutes. Experiments showed that even at a mild 72 degrees, the inside of a car reached 116 degrees in an hour – a high enough temperature to kill a dog. If you’re out running errands, the safest place for your dog, in the summer, is at home.
The major contributing factor to a dog overheating is dogs can’t sweat. They control their body temperature by panting. If the air in the car is near or above the dog’s body temperature (about 102 degrees), the dog will be unable to cool itself, and its body temperature can quickly rise to fatal levels. Heat stroke symptoms are: heavy panting, salivation, disorientation, agitation, rapid heart beat, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, coma, and death.
If heat stroke symptoms are present, immediately take these steps to lower the dog’s body temperature in a controlled manner:
- Move the dog into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, chest and/or groin, or immerse the dog in cool, not cold, water.
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
- Take the dog to a veterinarian, immediately.
If your dog normally joins you on a walk or run, on hot and humid days, avoid overexertion and change your routine. Walk or run early in the morning or late in the day when the temperature is cooler.
Certain types of dogs are more susceptible to having heat issues. Be especially careful with: northern breeds (e.g. Malamutes), short-muzzled breeds (e.g. Pugs), puppies under 6 months, older dogs, overweight dogs, dogs with heart or lung disease, high risk dogs. Also know that a dog who has suffered from heat stress or heatstroke in the past is more likely to have problems in the future.