Barhite: Don’t leave dogs panting in hot carsWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
It is just starting to get hot enough to hesitate before leaving a pet in a vehicle.
I have two cats, and I won’t be traveling with them anytime soon. Cats don’t travel well.
They love to take car rides and it is fun to take them along.
However, Dr. Steven Reece, my pets’ veterinarian at Anthony Wayne Animal Hospital, said unless it is cooler than 70 degrees outside and your vehicle has good ventilation, it is a bad idea.
“When you have them bottled up in a car with no ventilation and the temperature just keeps creeping up, they can’t relieve their body temperature,” he said.
Dogs try to cool down by panting, but when they are in a hot car, there is no difference in the temperature.
Overheated dogs go into shock and get really depressed, to the point of dementia. The heat then starts to mess with their circulation, Reece said. If their temperature gets to 106 degrees, there will be brain damage and they will probably die.
The only way to possibly save a dog is an emergency trip to the vet. Occasionally, pouring rubbing alcohol on the dog’s paws can be an effective at-home remedy.
“We will treat them with freezing IV fluids or we will use ice water enemas to try to cool their core temperature,” Reece said. “It isn’t going to do any good to splash them with cold water.”
Reece said it hasn’t been that hot this summer, but even a 70-degree day with direct sun can be deadly to a dog.
He doesn’t recommend leaving the dog in a running car because the pet could panic and hit the gas pedal. The best advice is to keep the dog at home, go to stores that allow pets or bring along a passenger who can sit in the shade with the dog when you are running errands, he said.
Cyndi Condit said when people spot dogs in hot cars they often call the Toledo Area Humane Society.
“We aren’t getting more calls than usual, but we are getting calls,” said Condit, the humane society’s marketing manager.
However, it is better to call the police because they can get to the dog quicker and break into the car, she said. Humane society’s cruelty officers will go to investigate if they are in the area, though.
When reporting a dog in distress, Condit suggests having the following information for the police:
- Accurate address
- Make, model and color of the car
- License plate if possible
- Are the windows up? Is the vehicle in full sun?
- What breed/size of dog?
- Is there water in the car?
- How long has the car been sitting there?
Condit said it is important to remember that it doesn’t have to 100 degrees for the car to heat up quickly. It is better to report a dog in distress than second-guess the weather.
“Even at 70 degrees when it isn’t that hot outside, it can get really hot inside a car in a matter of minutes,” she said.
Email Toledo Free Press Community Ombudsman Brandi Barhite at email@example.com.