Dogs die in hot cars and that’s a fact!
With all the articles written about the dangers of dogs dying in hot cars, you may be wondering why there’s another one!
I hesitated to be the one to add to the growing number, but then I got to thinking. There are two reasons why there are so many. The first, people obviously want to read about this topic. The second, no one’s listening.
I figured either way, there was room for one more. So, here goes.
Do not, under any circumstances, leave your dog in the car. I know, it’s only for a couple of minutes. Let’s say that’s your intention. You crack open the windows and run in for your couple of minutes.
No sooner do you step into the store, when you bump into someone you know, or haven’t seen for ages. The next thing you know, 20 minutes have passed and so has your dog.
The most well intentioned people in the world don’t seem to understand how quickly a car heats up. Why not conduct a little experiment. Crack your windows open a little, sit in the car for 5 minutes, no air conditioning, no cold drinks. How did it go?
According to a vehicle heat study conducted by the Department Of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, when the outside temp is 72°-96°, with windows cracked, internal temperature rises by 19° after 10 minutes, 29° after 20 minutes, 34° after 30 minutes, and 43° after 60 minutes.
In other words, if it’s 70° outside, there’s a line at the register, and your two minutes stretched into 10, it’s now at least 90° in your car.
It’s critical to understand, dogs don’t sweat. They pant in order to keep themselves cool, and breathing in hot air won’t help. A dog’s body temperature is around 101°. If that temperature rises even 3 degrees, your dog can start experiencing the first signs of heatstroke.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Skin almost hot to the touch
- Rapid panting/breathing
- Dark red gums
- Blank stare, little eye movement
- Unable to move
- May lose urine and bowel function
- Convulsions, seizures, vomiting
- Coma, leading to brain damage and shutting down of internal organs
What to do for a dog that is showing signs of heatstroke
- Move the dog to a cool or shady area
- Put wet rags on him, or sprinkle him with cool water, especially around his head and paws (never use cold/ice water – it constricts the blood vessels)
- Use a fan, hands, or piece of paper over his body, to help water evaporate
- Give him a drink, but don’t force it
- Take him to a vet immediately, even if you think he’s better. Serious complications can develop from heat stroke.
What to do when you see a dog in a car
Don’t just keep walking and assume the owner will be right back, or that someone else will help.
If the car is parked in a strip mall with just a few stores, and the animal doesn’t seem in distress, run and speak to the managers to page the owner. Hopefully that will be the end of the story.
If you feel time is of the essence, call the police. Make sure you have as many details as possible: type and color of car, license number, location of car, condition of the dog. If the animal seems to be in distress, ask if you’re allowed to open the door and get the dog out, or do you risk prosecution.
Don’t leave the dog until someone has come to help.
Laws regarding animals in parked cars
Sadly, laws protecting animals in any situation are almost nonexistent.
Having said that, just because a state doesn’t have a specific law, don’t be discouraged. There may be local ordinances prohibiting it.
A look at your city’s website, or call to your local police department, should give you the information for your area.
This keeps happening, how do we stop it?
Articles in local papers
Vets reminding their clients during office visits, and through recordings while on hold
Public service announcements on TV and radio
TV and radio stations could get on air hosts to make a quick mention before commercial breaks
Use the law to prosecute/fine when applicable. People need to see consequences
Be prepared the next time you see a dog in a car
Program numbers of police, local humane unit and animal control into your cell phone
Keep bottled water and a leash in your car
Have flyers ready to put on peoples’ windshields, warning about the dangers. They can be downloaded, free of charge, from the internet
Know the laws in your area, and what you’re allowed to do in case of emergency
If you insist on rescuing the dog, regardless of any possible consequences, make sure you have at least one witness who can vouch for what happened. Have them film it if possible.
Dogs die in hot cars – conclusion
I know you love to hang out with your dog, and bring him on errands, so do I, but there is no way that I would ever take a chance with my dog’s well being. If it means she has to stay home while I run around, that’s fine. At least I know she’ll be there when I get back!