We have already seen several cases this summer of dogs being left in hot cars. Some of these dogs have died. Whether it is a person running errands or police officers, these dogs have been put in danger even if their owners didn’t know it.
There is no safe way to leave your dog in a car on a hot day. Whether the car is in the shade, if you leave the windows cracked or you leave them water — you will not prevent heatstroke from happening. Studies show that the temperature between closed windows and windows that are open several inches is negligible.
Standford University released research findings in regards to interior car temperatures even on cooler days. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out. They hope their findings will put to rest the misconception that a parked car can be a safe place for a child or pet in mild weather.
“There are cases of children dying on days as cool as 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” said lead author Catherine McLaren, MD, clinical instructor in emergency medicine. “Though past research has documented the temperature spike inside a car on extremely hot days, this is the first time anyone has looked at cooler days.”
Heatstroke in dogs has a mortality rate of 50%. It affects all dogs but especially dogs in hot and humid weather, dogs being confined to a car or another location where heat can build up, dogs that are obese, and dogs with heart disease or upper respiratory disease.
Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans. They release heat by panting or sweating through their paw pads and nose. If this form of cooling doesn’t work, their body temperature begins to rise. Their normal body temperature is between 101° and 102.5°. Severe damage begins to occur by the time their body reaches 106° and death will occur at 110°. It only takes a few more degrees for your dog to go from sick to dead.
The hotter the dog’s body becomes, the less effective its cooling mechanisms are. Once the body reaches 106°, proteins in their body break down, cell membranes become damaged and cells are unable to produce energy. Once the cells begin to break down, the kidney and liver fail, gastrointestinal lining dies and the heart and brain become damaged. By 110°, the dog can die within minutes.
It is extremely difficult to know how many incidents of dogs in hot cars have occurred each year. The numbers of how many calls are taken each year are staggered. My Dog Is Cool is currently trying to gather those numbers. You can also print out signs that you can post around your neighborhood to remind everyone about leaving their dogs in their cars.
If you see a dog in a car, especially during the hot days of summer, please call your local emergency services immediately.
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