In the warmer months, hundreds of reports come in from across the country where pet owners have left their dog in a hot car. Since many of these incidents occur in situations where the dog is otherwise well cared for, we must assume that it is ignorance on that part of the pet owner that causes these tragic situations.
Keep Your Pets Safe
Never leave a dog in a parked car. On a mild 73°F day, the temperature inside a car can reach 120°F in 30 minutes. On a 90°F day, the interior of a vehicle can reach 160°F in minutes.
If you have errands to run, leave the dog at home. Tha majority of cases we see involve pet owners who were "just running into the store for a minute". Minutes turn into a half-hour, and suddenly the dog is in a life-threatening situation.
If you see a dog in a car and in distress, take down the car's color, model, make, and license-plate number, have the owner paged inside nearby stores, and call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. If police are unresponsive or too slow and the dog's life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back your assessment, take steps to remove the suffering animal, and then wait for authorities to arrive. Contact PETA for a supply of fliers on the dangers of heatstroke to leave on windshields.
Don't carry your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. This is always dangerous, but the heat brings the added danger of burning the dog's feet on the hot metal.
Don't take your dog jogging-- except on cool mornings or evenings-- and don't force exercise. On long walks, rest often and take plenty of water. Hot pavement can burn dogs' paws; choose shady, grassy routes.
Trim heavy-coated dogs fur, but leave an inch for protection against insects and sunburn. Keep an eye on areas where hair is thin, like eyelids, ears, and nose as they can get sunburned.
Keep your dog indoors. If he or she must stay outside for long, avoid the hottest part of the day. Provide shade, water, and a kiddie pool. Keep drinking water in an anchored bucket or a heavy bowl that won't tip over.
Be a watchdog for chained dogs. Make sure that they have food, water, and shelter. If you see a dog in distress, contact humane authorities. Give the dog immediate relief by providing water. Click here for more information.
If You See an Animal Suffering From Heatstroke
Heatstroke can come on quickly and result in brain damage or death. Watch for symptoms such as restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, or lack of coordination. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, get her or him into the shade immediately and call your veterinarian. Lower the animal's body temperature gradually by providing water to drink, applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck, and chest, or immersing the dog in lukewarm (not cold) water.