Dogs Die in Hot Cars

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Why You Should Leave Your Dogs at Home

It’s finally summer; the time of year we all want to go outside and beat cabin fever. We want our furry friends to enjoy the summer just as much as we do by doing various activities like hiking, swimming, and camping. Sometimes we miss a few details along the way and need to run into a store while leaving our furry friends in the car; this is not good practice. Leaving your animals in the car is incredibly harmful to your pets and could have very substantial consequences for you.

Cars can heat up very quickly when parked in a parking lot. Leaving your pets in a parked car could potentially cause heat stroke or death. Dogs don’t have mechanisms like people do to cool themselves down. Dogs can only pant and sweat out of the pads of their feet to keep themselves cool. Because of their fur coat they can overheat very easily.  Most owners will crack the window for the dog to allow airflow, but studies have shown that the cracked window makes no difference in the temperature within the car, and therefore will not aid the animal in keeping cool.

Studies have shown that even on mild days, a car can still be a risk for your furry friend. Here is a table that shows how fast a car can heat up based on the temperature outside.

Outside Temperature in degrees F Inside Car Temperature in degrees F Amount of Time Elapsed in Minutes
75 100 10
75 120 30
85 90 5
85 100 7-10
85 120 30
100 140 15

Signs of heat stroke in dogs are as follows: The dog begins to pant and has difficulty breathing. The tongue will appear bright red and the saliva being produced will be very thick. With the onset of heat stroke most dogs will vomit. As time goes on the dog will start to become unsteady and will lose balance. The dog may also experience bloody diarrhea. As shock from the heat sets in the dog’s lips and mucous membrane will turn gray, the dog will seize, go into a coma, and shortly after will die. If your dog has any of these systems move them to a very cool environment such as an air conditioned room, proceed to call your veterinarian and take a rectal temperature every 10 minutes.

Leaving your dog in the car can also have consequences for you. In the state of NH it is considered a form of animal cruelty to leave your animal in a parked car on a warm day. This act of animal cruelty is considered a misdemeanor for the 1st offense and a felony for the second offense. In NH any law enforcement officer or licensed human organization can take any action necessary to rescue an animal from this situation. In VT the consequence of leaving an animal in a warm car is considered cruelty and is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of $2,000 for the first offense. Any member of law enforcement or a humane officer can take reasonable force to remove the animal in this situation. If you see an animal in a car on a warm/ hot day and the dog seems distressed write down the license plate, go inside the store, and call the owner over the intercom. If there is no response the next action recommended is to call a law enforcement officer and stay with the vehicle until they arrive.

It is great to bring your animals out on summer outings. Just remember to check everything off on your list before putting your animals in the car. Make sure you have plenty of water packed and try to take breaks in shady spots. If you see any signs of animals in distress in a hot car do not hesitate to call law enforcement, taking action could mean saving the animals life. As you enjoy the summer remember to have fun and keep your animals cool.

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