For someone from the Northeast, April seems a bit early for this warning, but a news report of a dog rescued from a hot car outside the St. Louis Zoo means it’s a good time for this post. It’s definitely getting hot enough in much of the country.
Now that temperatures are starting to rise, it’s worth reminding dog owners of the dangers of leaving a dog in a parked car, even for what seems like “just a few minutes.” As the chart below makes clear, it doesn’t take long for inside temperatures to top the 100-degree mark, even when outside temperatures seem moderate. The consequences of being left in a hot car can be dire for a dog:
Dogs cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. They do not perspire through their skin like people. On warm days the air and upholstery in your vehicle heats up to high temperatures making it impossible for pets to cool themselves. A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death. (via National Mill Dog Rescue)
And it’s not just your own dog you should keep an eye on. This excellent post on the ASPCA site offers advice on what you can do if you see a dog in a hot car. It’s always easiest to just walk away from a situation that might be considered someone else’s problem, but saving a dog is worth getting yelled at by an embarrassed or irate owner who feels that you’re telling them how to parent their dog. If it comes down to it, you can even call 911.
Here’s a list of the state laws protecting animals left in parked vehicles.
This graphic from the ASPCA tells the story succinctly. You can download this as a printable flier here.