Hot Car Season: How to Help a Dog in Distress
Chances are, if you are reading this blog you already know that you should NEVER leave your dog in the car on a hot (or warm) day with the windows rolled up. If you’ve ever been scorched upon settling into your leather, pleather or whatever seats, you know how hot a sealed up car can get and how dangerous to your dog’s health it is to leave them in the car.
Studies show that on a 75 degree day, temperatures inside a car with the windows cracked can raise to 100 degrees within 10 minutes. A car with dark blue or black interior can rise even more, reaching temperatures up to and over 200 degrees!
Approximately 38 CHILDREN die from hyperthermia annually in the United States with a total of 534 deaths from 1998 to present . So far in 2012, 7 deaths have occurred. I have included this information just to show that if it’s happening with children, not everybody knows the dangers of hyperthermia from hot cars. You should always be on the lookout for dogs or children left alone in a hot car. If you are observant, you could save a life!
What should you do if you see a dog in distress locked in a hot car?
- Call 911 first, most likely they will dispatch the fire dept. and they will be the first responders on the scene.
- Call Animal Control second. It’s a good idea to have your local Animal Control phone number programmed into your phone. In an emergency situation, every second counts so you don’t want to be standing in the parking lot with your Google app crashing unable to search for the number. It only takes a minute to pre-program a phone number and then you are prepared for any animal emergency situation. To find the phone number of your local animal control, just Google the name of your town and search for Animal Control.
- Know that if you take matters into your own hands and smash the window or attempt to get into the car, you could be prosecuted for damage, destruction of property or breaking and entering. (I took a yahoo poll and more than one participator said they wouldn’t hesitate to smash the window if a child were inside, others said they would also deal with the repercussions for a dog).
- If you can, have a nearby shop owner page the owner or make an announcement.
The police should respond quickly and they take this situation very seriously. A man in Buffalo who commented on the poll went through this very thing about a month ago. He was the observer who called police and he reported to me that the dog owner has been to court and is facing multiple charges and up to a year in jail.
Hopefully the police will respond very quickly so you are not standing there having to make a decision to intervene. Keep an eye out for these symptoms of heat stroke in dogs:
- Rapid, heavy panting
- Bright red tongue
- Bright red gums OR very pale gums
- Drooling, thick saliva
- Dizziness and/or weakness
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Flat faced dogs like pugs and french bulldogs as well as senior and overweight dogs are at a higher risk of heatstroke.
A dog’s normal body temperature is between 99.0 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature above 103.5 is considered a fever. When temperatures reach 106 or higher, the dog suffers irreversible damage to cells and organs, organ failure and death can occur in a very short time.
Unfortunately, even the most conscientious owner can end up in a situation involving a dog, a car, a hot day and not a lot of options. Just remember that even with the windows all the way down, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, even if you park in the shade, it’s not safe and not worth the risk.
In this blog I have focused on dogs but the same information goes for cats too! Cats should never be transported in the trunk of a car or left in a carrier in a hot car.
Stay safe out there!
Have I left anything out? Leave a comment below.