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Steven Gursten
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Hot dogs belong on the grill, not in the car this summer

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If you wouldn’t leave your child in a hot car in the summer, you shouldn’t leave your dog either

Pets in car

But before you head out on the road with Fido or Fluffy this summer, here a few safety facts to keep in mind before leaving a family pet in your car:

  • “On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes - even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.” (The Humane Society of the United States)
  • On an 85 degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees –  even when the windows have been left open an inch or two. Within 30 minutes, a car’s interior can reach 120 degrees. When the temperature outside is a pleasant 70 degrees, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter. (ASPCA)

What are the signs of heat stress?

The Humane Society of the United States urges pet owners to watch for the following signs of heat stress:

  • “[H]eavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.”

What should you do if your pet has suffered heat stress?

The Humane Society of the United State recommends the following emergency steps:

  • “Gradually lower his body temperature by applying cool (not cold) water all over his body or soaking him in a cool bath.”
  • “Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin area. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.”
  • “You may offer fresh, cool water if your dog is alert and wants to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.”
  • “Take your pet immediately to a veterinarian.”

Additionally, the ASPCA recommends the following if your dog is overcome by the heat:

  • “Bring down body temperature by soaking the animal in cool (not ice) water, but make sure water does not get into the mouth or nose of an unconscious animal.”
  • “Seek immediate veterinary care.”

Call for help if you see an animal in a hot car

As The Humane Society of the United States suggests, if you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, take the following action:

  • “Call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately …”
  • “Get the vehicle’s tag number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car.”

Related information:

13 safety tips to prevent child heat stroke in cars this summer