We are seeing 90-degree temperatures now, and that means it will only get hotter as the dog days of summer set in. This is the beginning of a dangerous time for pets — those outside in the heat, but also for those four-legged co-pilots in our vehicles. Every summer, the same headlines pop up about an animal or a child left in a hot car.
Leaving a dog (or child) in a vehicle can quickly turn deadly in a matter of minutes. Dogs are extremely vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet. Being left in a car, even one parked in the shade or with the windows cracked, can compromise a pet’s health in a short amount of time.
For example, it may be 72 degrees outside, but a car’s internal temperature can rise to 116 degrees within 20 minutes. Neither leaving the windows cracked nor parking in the shade is a solution.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can withstand a high body temperature for only a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage brain damage or even death.
What should someone do if they see a dog in a hot car?
First, if it’s at a business, go inside and ask the manager to make an announcement. Call the police and the local animal control agency. If the dog is in distress, call 911 right away.
Bottom line: For the safety of the pet, please leave him at home if he cannot go inside when you’re out and about. We never know how long the checkout line will be or what distraction can turn a two-minute errand into 20 minutes.
A dog can also suffer from the heat during a walk or at the dog park. It’s best not to take Fido for a 2 p.m. jog or have him outside for extended periods when the temps are high. Make sure he has plenty of shade and fresh, cool water at all times when outdoors.
Signs that a dog is suffering from a heat-related illness include:
- Excessive panting and/or drooling.
- Increased heart rate.
- Trouble breathing.
- Collapse or loss of consciousness.
- Respiratory arrest.
TRACI D. HOWERTON IS THE VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR FOR ANIMAL RESCUE NEW ORLEANS, A NONPROFIT, VOLUNTEER-BASED, NO-KILL SHELTER. FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, EMAIL ANIMALRESCUECOLUMN@GMAIL.COM OR FOR MORE INFO ON ARNO, VISIT WWW.ANIMALRESCUENEWORLEANS.ORG.
Originally printed in The Advocate on May 23, 2019