This Summer, Keep Your Canine Buddy Cool – American Humane
As many of us know, leaving a pet in a parked vehicle can be life threatening in hot weather. But did you know that even when it’s comfortably 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside a parked car can reach dangerous levels in just minutes, putting animals at serious risk of discomfort, sickness and even death?
Heat exposure affects animals differently than humans, and not just inside hot cars. Dogs and other pets can quickly become dehydrated and overheated within minutes while walking or just playing outside.
If you’re a dog owner, you might already know when your pet needs to get away from the heat. American Humane animal experts encourage pet lovers to learn all the signs and symptoms of an overheated pet and what to do to keep your canine companion cool.
Why is leaving a dog in a parked car so dangerous on a hot, even hot day?
It is never okay to leave a pet in a hot car, even if the windows are cracked. Indoor temperatures can reach deadly levels within minutes, putting your dog (or other animal) at risk of heatstroke and even death. Every year thousands of dogs suffer from heat stroke and many die because their owners are not fully informed of the dangers of a hot car.
What should I do if I see a dog in distress in a parked car on a hot day?
If you find a dog in a hot car, you need to act fast. Call local law enforcement and provide the exact location of the care with its color, make, model and license plate number. The person you speak to can give you instructions on what to do based on their estimated time of arrival. Wait with the dog until the authorities arrive.
How about walking and exercising my dog in hot weather?
Summer is here and you probably want to take your dog outside for fresh air, sunshine and exercise, but warmer temperatures can create certain risks for your pet, including overheating and dehydration. Try to limit your dog’s exercise activities to early morning or late evening.
Another way to keep your dog cool is to take breaks between exercise sessions or take very short walks. You should always have a water bottle and collapsible dog travel bowl with you during outdoor exercise activities for your dog so they have access to fresh water. During the summer, exterior surfaces can become extremely hot. Asphalt can heat up quickly and can even burn your pet’s paw pads. It is important to test whether the surface you are walking on is too hot for your dog’s paws. Take your hand and place it on the surface. If you can’t hold your hand to the surface for more than five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to step on.
What are the signs of heatstroke in a dog?
Many dogs stop walking or seek shady places to rest if they get overworked. Look for signs of distress, such as excessive yawning or blinking, gasping, or signs of dehydration, such as dry, sticky gums. Other signs to look out for include vomiting and diarrhea or bright red gums or tongue.
If you feel your dog is overheating, get him into an air-conditioned or cool building as soon as possible. Offer your dog a bowl of fresh water to drink, however, serve small portions of water at a time. If he swallows a large amount of water in a short time, he could get sick and end up vomiting. If your dog seems severely dehydrated, contact your veterinarian immediately. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency that should not be taken lightly.
What are some simple tips on how to check my dog’s dehydration?
The “skin tent test” is a simple way to test for possible dehydration. Gently pinch the skin on your dog’s shoulder, pull the skin away from his body, then release. The skin will snap back into place if your dog is properly hydrated, but it will stay “tight” or come back very slowly if your dog is dehydrated.
You can also pull your dog’s lips back and press his gums with a finger. Do this gently, but use enough force so that the area turns white when you release the pressure. Then measure how long it takes for the color to return. Generally, if the color takes longer than 1.5 seconds to return, your dog may be dehydrated. If your dog seems severely dehydrated, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Summer with your pets can be a picnic if you follow these simple tips and remember that hot dogs belong on the grill, not your car!