Chances are, asking Fido if he wants to go for a ride will be greeted with enthusiastic running in circles, tail wagging, and barking. Most dogs enjoy spending time with their people, and there is something about a nose out the window that brings pure bliss to our canine companions. However, as the weather starts to get warmer, it may be safer to keep our pets at home instead of allowing them to come along for running errands.
Numerous studies have shown that the temperature in a vehicle can climb significantly in as short as 10 minutes. Cars can become up to 40 degrees warmer than the weather outside, even with the windows cracked 1-2 inches. According to the ASPCA, on an 85° day it takes ONLY 10 minutes for car to reach 102° even with windows down 1-2 inches! Within 30 minutes it can reach 120°!
Pets do not sweat the same way we do. They use panting as a way to cool themselves. Panting requires the evaporation of moisture to occur from the breath, which means the ability to cool is impeded on days where the humidity is high.
Pets that get too warm can quickly go into shock and develop organ damage, which can be irreversible and possibly fatal. Signs that a pet may be suffering from heat stroke include:
- excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- stupor or collapse
- diarrhea (can be bloody)
- temperature > 104°F
If your pet is showing any of these signs, please contact a veterinarian immediately. We will likely advise you to bring a pet over right away. Wetting the pet with cool but not cold water and using a fan to blow air over the pet will help cool the pet down. IV fluids and other measures may be required, especially in severe cases.
Other tips to keep pets cool include making sure they always have access to fresh water, getting them summer haircuts, and making sure they have shade available if they are predominantly outdoors. See this ASPCA blog for additional tips.
Hopefully together we can help keep your pet from becoming a “hot dog” this summer!