I received a frantic call from my daughter a week ago. She was getting into her car and noticed a barking dog locked in a car in the parking lot next to her. She did not know what to do, but knew that it was very hot outside. She wasn’t sure, so asked if it could be dangerous. Of course it is… I said. And then realized that not everyone knows that pets can die of heat stroke, easily, in warm weather.  Many of us have come upon similar situations. And some of us may  have even dared risk leaving our dogs in the car for a few minutes while we run into the bank, etc. This post is intended to educate about just how easy this can turn into a life threatening situation.

I have a chart that I show when I teach my pet safety classes.  It elicits the most gasps, more than any bloody photo of an injury .  It does that, because it shows just how easy it is to cause a dog to overheat in a car.  The car acts like an oven, raising the temperature to levels much higher than the outside temperature. Hyperthermia can occur much easier than you realize.  Certain breeds are predisposed, as are overweight animals, and cardiac patients.  Brachycephalic breeds with flat, pushed in faces, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, and did I mention Bulldogs, are especially susceptible.  On very hot, humid days, opt to leave them home from the dog park, preferably in an air conditioned space. The same goes for cats.

Dogs do not sweat, and are thus challenged when it comes to lowering their body temperature. You may notice more panting in the warm weather, as it is one way of releasing heat. Offer them plenty of water during the heat, because they lose water while trying to cool off by panting.

Heat stroke can occur when ambient temperature reaches 104-106 degrees, and temperatures greater than 106 degrees can be deadly. So keep that in mind when you read:

                                                                           outside temperature                                temperature inside car

70 degrees is too hot to                                               75                                                                  118

leave a dog or cat in the                                               77                                                                  123

car!                                                                                 81                                                                   138

90                                                                 143

94                                                                 145

I hope you found this informative. Please share.

And enjoy your summer!

Dr. Dawn

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