Keeping your beloved pet safe in summer means being hyper-vigilant when leaving them in the car.
Even on a moderately warm day, the inside of a car can heat up in minutes, putting the life of a dog in danger. In general, it’s best to leave pets at home in summertime if you have to go into a store or if there is a possibility you might have to leave them alone. While they may love jumping in the car when you do errands at other times of the year, give it a second thought before taking them for the ride for the next couple of months. Even leaving a dog in the car for 10 minutes while you run into the grocery store can be extremely dangerous in hot weather. Dogs do not perspire the way humans do and so the way they maintain a safe body temperature is through panting and also by releasing heat through the pads of their feet — which becomes increasingly challenging on hot car seats, or even on asphalt. On occasion, people have left their dogs in the vehicle with the air conditioning on. While this seems like a good idea, if anything went wrong — if the air-conditioning failed or the battery died — a dog could lose its life very quickly, especially since the windows would probably be closed.
Indications of overheating in a dog include:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive or erratic heart rate
- Salivation or drooling
- Weakness and lack of coordination
- Convulsions Vomiting Collapse
If you see a dog experiencing any of these symptoms, take the following steps:
- Transfer the animal to a cooler location, ideally in the shade.
- Encourage the dog to drink water.
- Pour water on the dog — but do not use ice, as this can affect blood flow and counterintuitively prevents cooling.
- Fan the dog with a magazine or anything close to hand. This encourages evaporation that cools the blood and reduces the dog’s core temperature.
- Get the dog to a veterinarian quickly for assessment and additional treatment. (Consider contacting the RAPS Animal Hospital at 604-242-1666)
In cases of emergency, extreme measures are understandable. However, it is not recommended to smash windows in order to rescue a dog. Shattering glass can endanger the person and the dog. For an animal that is already in distress, the smashing of glass could make it even more upset and there is a good likelihood of shards of glass ending up in the dog’s paws or coat. If you see an animal in a car and have concerns for its safety, take the following steps:
- Write down the license number, type of vehicle and colour.
- If it is probable that the owner is in a nearby store, ask the business to page the owner.
- If it appears that the situation is an emergency, call the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter (during business hours) at 604-275-2036 or the Richmond RCMP (or your local police, depending on the location).
- If you have a bottle of water in your car — and it’s a good idea to keep one there in case of emergency — you could try to offer the dog some water to drink through an open window or even try to pour water on the dog through the window in order to reduce its temperature.
Something else to consider is keeping a pet emergency kit in your car, including a bottle of water, a small bowl and a handheld battery-powered fan, which you can buy at a dollar store.
Please spread the word among your friends and keep an eye out for dangerous situations. Be prepared and you can save a life!