Don't Leave Pets In Hot Cars!

It is summertime in the United States, and the stories of animals being left in hot cars are all over the news and social media. Just last week our local police department had to rescue a dachshund left in a car while the owners just "ran into the store for a minute". Luckily the dog was pulled from the car and not harmed. The owner left the windows cracked and believed that was enough to keep the temperature inside the car tolerable.

You should never leave your dog alone in the car in warm weather. In many places, it is illegal to leave a pet alone in the car. Some states even allow police officers and the general public to break into cars to rescue a pet.

Cracking a window does very little to prevent soaring temperatures inside a car. Even on a beautiful 75 degree day, temperatures inside a car can reach 100 degrees in 20 minutes. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, several studies have shown how quickly the temperature can rise in a parked car, regardless of car color or if the windows are cracked open.

One of the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car is heat stroke. All dogs are susceptible to heat stroke, but some breeds may suffer consequences faster than others. Brachycephalic breeds (short nosed dogs like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers) are especially prone to heat related illnesses. 

Signs of Heat Stroke/Exhaustion:

  1. Heavy panting
  2. Glazed eyes
  3. Excessive drooling
  4. Lying down, frequent breaks, less responsive to commands
  5. Labored breathing
  6. Increased heart rate
  7. Lethargy
  8. Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  9. Unconsciousness
If you must take your dog with you, bring another person that can wait in the car with the air conditioner running. This will keep the pet comfortable and safe, and reduce the possibility of pet theft (another concern with leaving a pet in the car alone at any time of year). 

Heat exhaustion, or the visible effects thereof, can sneak up on your pet. It is important to take precautions in warm weather. Listed below are some helpful tips to keep your pet safe when the temperature rises.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Cool in the Summer Heat

  1. Don't leave your pets unattended in a locked car.
  2. When walking your pet, try to do it in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
  3. Always have plenty of fresh water available, If you go out, bring water with you
  4. If your pet is an outdoor pet, provide shade or shelter.
  5. Be careful of hot asphalt or trails and do the barefoot test: Place your bare hand or foot on the surface for 5 seconds. If it is uncomfortable to you, it is too hot for your pet, they can burn their foot pads.
  6. Don't over exercise your pet. Many pets will continue to run or play fetch long after they have overheated. Wait until the cooler hours to toss a ball in the yard.
  7. If your pet can swim, let them take a dip in the pool. If on a hike, choose a location that has a stream or lake to cool off your pet.
  8. Consider getting a plastic pool for the yard to help your pet keep cool.
  9. If you walk, hike, camp, or run with your dog in the summer, consider getting them a cooling vest.
  10. All animals can overheat or get sunburned. But be aware that darker furred animals will get hot faster, and animals with lighter fur or hairless can burn faster.
Summertime is a great time to get out and be active with your pet. Taking your dog to the beach, on a hike, or just down to the park for some fetch is great. But if you are heading to the grocery store "just to get a few things", please leave your pet at home. There is no need to risk your pets life so he can sit in a hot car all by himself waiting for you to come back.