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If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them

Don’t leave your pet in a hot car this summer


Every summer, there are news articles from across the country about dogs (and sometimes other pets) being left in hot cars while their owners are shopping or otherwise occupied. It’s an issue many pet owners feel strongly about and is often controversial, but there are some basic facts that are important to note about leaving your dog in a hot car:

  • The temperature inside a parked car can be enough to harm or kill your pet, even with the windows open.

  • In less than 20 minutes, the temperature in a parked car can reach up to 40C.

  • Dogs have a limited ability to sweat. They don’t have sweat glands, so they have to pant and release heat through their paws if they want to cool themselves, which isn’t something they can easily do in an overheated vehicle.They’re susceptible to heat stroke, which can lead to organ failure, illness and even death.

Laws around members of the public rescuing dogs from hot cars differ from region to region (and it’s frequently illegal), so your best option if you discover a dog in a parking lot is to attempt to contact the owner and/or the proper authorities.

If the vehicle is parked outside a store, make a note of the license plate and ask the manager of the business to page the owner. If that fails, and the dog appears to be in serious distress, call your local animal control agency, SPCA or police.

According to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA), if your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place

  • Wet the dog with cool water

  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.

  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.

  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)

  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

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