Pets in Parked Cars: Summer Hot Dogs (And Cats)

Of course, we love our pets and sometimes take them with us on everyday outings. Unfortunately, too many animals are left in parked vehicles, often leading to disaster.

Dogs don’t perspire and must pant to cool their bodies. With only hot air to breathe, their body temperature can rapidly increase and lead to hyperthermia, or heatstroke. Without immediate treatment, this condition can cause brain damage or even death.

Most pet owners don’t realize how quickly temperatures can reach lethal levels. On a typical summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can increase from 85 to 120 degrees in only 30 minutes.

Symptoms of heatstroke include fast, heavy panting and salivating; rapid heartbeat; deep red tongue or gums; vomiting or diarrhea; lethargy; loss of balance; coma or seizures.

Dogs found in this condition should be taken immediately to a well ventilated, shady location and a veterinarian should be called. Provide drinking water and apply wet towels to the head and chest; or immerse the dog in tepid (not cold) water.

Obese dogs and those with heavy coats or flat faces (i.e. pugs, bull breeds) are at higher risk of overheating. Common sense should be used whenever leaving a pet inside a parked car is unavoidable:

  1. Park in a shady area
  2. Leave all windows slightly open (but remember, animal theft is common)
  3. Provide drinking water in a non-spill receptacle
  4. Watch the clock, and check on your pet every 15 minutes

For more information:

Author’s Note: In most cases, it is unlawful to leave human children unattended in parked cars. For more information: Harrison's Hope


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