Every year thousands of dogs die due to heat stroke after being left in parked cars. Even if the day doesn’t seem that hot, temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even if the windows are open or the vehicle is left in the shade.
Ability To Sweat
Leaving a dog in a hot car for short periods of time can have serious consequences because of a dog’s limited ability to sweat. Dogs can only sweat through panting and through the pads of their paws meaning they can over-heat very quickly.
- A dog’s normal body temperature is approximately 102 degrees Fahrenheit. All it takes is for the dog’s body temperature to rise to 106 degrees for a very short period of time before it suffers irreversible brain damage or death.
- If the temperature outside is 78 degrees, the temperature inside a car can reach from 100 to 120 degrees in just a few minutes.
- If the outside temperature is 90 degrees the temperature inside a car can reach 160 degrees in less than ten minutes.
- Even if its cloudy outside and the temperature seems mild enough, the sun can come out without warning and quickly heat up the car.
Visible Signs Of Heat Stroke
- Wide eyes
- Appearing distressed or restless
- Lack of coordination
- Excessive panting
- Discoloration of the tongue
- Thick saliva
- Lethargy or loss of consciousness
- Bloody diarrhea
What To Do
- Stay with the dog – Don’t leave until the situation has been resolved.
- Record the car’s make, model, color and license plate, as this information
may be needed later.
- Send someone else to have the owner paged in the nearest buildings.
- Call your local humane society and/or the police.
- If the dog appears to be in imminent danger, do what ever it takes to get the
dog out of the vehicle but be aware that there may be legal consequences.
We’d be happy to pay a fine in order to save a dog’s life.
- Cool the dog while waiting for the authorities to arrive.
How To Cool A Dog's Body Temperature
- If it’s able to drink, give the dog water.
- Move the dog into an air-conditioned vehicle.
- Pour cool water over the dog.
- Apply cool, wet towels to the dog’s paws, chest, stomach, and groin areas.
- Gently pray the dog with a garden hose.
- Immerse the dog in a tub of cool water for up to two minutes (not ice cold
water or ice as you don’t want to cool the dog too much or too quickly).
- Place the dog in front of a fan.
After the situation has been resolved, the dog should be examined by a veterinarian – as soon as possible.
Most people who end up in this situation mean no harm and were simply unaware of the dangers so please be compassionate with the owner of the dog. My rule of thumb is – if I’m not sure whether or not it will be too hot for my dog I leave him at home or take him with me when I leave my vehicle.
Other Hot Weather Concerns
Hot pavement can burn the pads on a dog’s paws very quickly.
86 degrees can cause the asphalt to feel like 135 degrees, which is hot enough to burn the dog’s pads and cause permanent damage in less than 1 minute.
87 degrees can cause the asphalt to feel like 140 degrees.
Walking on hot asphalt causes the heat from the asphalt to be absorbed through the dog’s pads into its body. Asphalt also reflects the heat onto the dog’s body increasing the risk of heat stroke.
How Can You Tell If The Asphalt Is Too Hot?
Place the back of your hand on the pavement for five seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
Because cone muzzles are designed to hold a dog’s mouth shut, these muzzles restrict the dog’s ability to pant and can cause heat stroke or asphyxiation.
How To Prevent Over Heating When Out With Your Dog
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car in warm weather, even if it’s in the shade, the windows are open, the temperature is mild and/or it’s cloudy.
- Check the temperature of the asphalt on a regular basis.
- Carry water and a bowl for the dog and take frequent breaks in the shade.
- Allow your dog to walk on the grass instead of the asphalt.
- Avoid asphalt at all times when it is too hot.
- If a muzzle is necessary, choose a muzzle that allows the dog to open its
mouth and pant freely.
Photo By: Nicole Barbara