Dogs & Cars In The Summer
With the beautiful summer just around the corner, chances are that you’re running around and eating like a rabbit to slim up for the hot weather. Its the perfect time of the year to take your beloved pet on adventures and enjoy the outdoors. While most dog owners take advantage of this beautiful time, there still seems to be a few that can not comprehend the lethality that comes with the season. It should be common knowledge by now that people should never leave a dog in the car on a hot day, especially given all the widespread publicity about the tragic consequences that occur when some have made this mistake. With a steady increase of dog ownership around the country, here is what you need to know about dogs in hot cars.
I Will Only Be 5 Minutes
There is a reason we call cars a greenhouse on wheels. For starters, you’re not imagining it. A parked car interior really is the hottest place most people will visit in their lives. The biggest misunderstanding with leaving your furry friend inside of car in the summer is just how quickly the temperature can rise. Most people see the world only thorough their own human perspective and simply do not understand just how quickly dogs overheat. Before we get into how hot dogs get, lets talk about the car itself.
How Quickly and How Hot Can It Get?
- 70 Degrees – On a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 117 degrees.
- 80 Degrees – The temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to 130.
- 95+ Degrees – Anything over 95 is considered deadly and in just an hour the temperature can reach over 175!
- But I’ll Keep My Windows Down – In terms of heat-rise over time, it makes very little difference whether a car’s windows are closed or partially open. In both cases, a car’s interior temperature can rise approximately 40 degrees within one hour, even when the exterior temperature is only 72°F.
Heat can build up very quickly in the enclosed space of a car, rising 20 degrees in 10 minutes according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA). So, for example, even on a day when the temperature is a moderate 68 degrees, the internal temperature can climb to 88 degrees within 10 minutes! In southern states like Florida the dashboard of your vehicle will get hot enough to bake cookies! In states like Arizona where temperatures can easily rise over 120 degrees, some of the interior panels will begin to melt.
You Will Lose Track Of Time
Due to selfish thinking, people sell themselves on the idea that 5 minutes will never turn into 20 or more. It may be a quick stop for coffee or a run to the shops before that big beach day. Yes, in a perfect world a quick run to the store for a pair of sun screen will only be 5 minutes. They never account the line to the cash register or you reading the back of the bottle in search of the best deal. There may be an incident with the clerk and another customer that may turn into something exciting enough for you to forget that your furry friend is minutes from death. Personally I’ve burned many dinners do to exciting precious minutes in a boxing match on television.
Distractions That May Kill Your Pet
- Looking For The Item – If you enter a big store in a city you’ve never been to, chances are you can not find the item in need. Due to high temperatures people will want to park closely to the store, and the trip from the parking lot to finding the item can be at least 10 minutes.
- Long Lines – Hey! you got the stuff but now there is a long line. We know you really need that sun screen to protect that sensitive skin so you’ll wait the extra 10 minutes.
- Other Customers – Walmart is known for its dumb down customer base. While they do have incredible prices, keep in mind that prices fluctuate quicker than employees can change them and some people will fight management for a few pennies. This can happen anywhere!
- Distractions – Keep in mind that the human brain is extremely selfish and will completely forget about the dog suffocating in the car if you get distracted. You may see discounted pants or other items that will cost you another 5-10 minutes by just looking at them.
Do the math, even the perfect scenario will not turn into 15 minutes. We are human and people will lose track of time quite easily if focused on the task at hand. On hot day, just standing in line for pay for the goods is enough to cause damage to your beloved companion. If the outside temperature did reach over 90 degrees your trip to the store just cooked the car to over 100 degrees!
The Damage You Can Cause
For starters, children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Adult humans begin to experience hyperpyrexia (extreme elevation of internal body temperature) at just 106 degrees witch can cause severed side effects, including death. Now put your self in your beloved pets shoes and try to see it through their eyes. You’re wearing a large fur coat and the only way of cooling your self is through the mouth. With yearly record breaking temperatures, animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads. Large breed dogs like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Huskies run a huge risk of over heating on a hot day in the dog park. A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 104º to 106ºF) can recover within an hour if given prompt first aid and veterinary care (normal body temperature is 100-102.5°F). Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106ºF) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is needed.
What Are The Symptoms?
- Rapid panting – Panting is your dog’s way to cool their body because dogs don’t sweat like we do. If you see a dog panting out of control, do something.
- Bright Red Tongue – Color of the tongue can tell you a lot about the dog. Besides heat stroke, bright red color might indicate fever, severe infection, poisoning, smoke inhalation, or abnormal levels of red blood cells, which can be caused by dehydration, chronically low blood oxygen levels
- Foam & Saliva – As the dog rapidly pants, the oxygen he is taking in can cause the saliva in the mouth to foam up. The more they pant the worse it will get.
- Dizziness & Weakness – The dog will be struggling to keep its self up and seem confused. Like humans, dogs will begin to space out and get desperate to breathe.
- Sock – Like any living thing on this planet, dogs understand the concept of death. Panic and sock are common signs of a heatstroke. Keep in mind that they may be unresponsive.
Follow These Steps To Prevent Heatstroke:
- Never Leave Your Pet Unattended In The Car – If you have to stop at the shops to pick something up be sure to leave the car on with another person inside. Have the air condition on blast with a bowl and plenty of water.
- Keep Your Dog Well Hydrated – Ensure your dog has easy access to fresh water. Water dishes should be placed in the shade or kept cold (frozen water bottles are handy). On beach days or long hikes, make sure you have gallons available for everyone. Dogs drink more water than you think.
- Provide shade – Deploy a beach umbrella or have access to shade for your dog to rest in. If you can get one of those cooling blankets for dogs.
What To Do If You See A Trapped Dog
Now we understand the dangers and symptoms of a heatstroke, but what do you do if a dog is trapped inside of a hot car? Before you start cracking windows be sure to read this first. Believe it or not most states do NOT have laws protecting dogs from being locked in the car. You can quickly find your self in a trouble situation due to breaking some guys window just to save a dogs life. Its imperative that you fully understand the situation and what you should do to ensure everybody wins.
Before You Start Smashing Windows
- Gather Data – Gather all the information about the vehicle. Write down car’s color, make, and model, and write down the license plate number or take a picture of it. Be sure to record the dog in the car if you can.
- Call Police – If you see a dog panting out of control in a hot car ALWAYS CALL 911. They’ve probably seen this more than once so wait for them to arrive before you start smashing windows.
- Notify Others – Make an announcement that there is a trapped dog in the car. With more people at the scene, utilize man power and and attempt to find the owner of the vehicle. If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner.
- Monitor The Dog – As help arrives, monitor the dog and be ready to take action.
Learn your town’s and state’s laws about leaving pets in hot cars. An increasing amount of states prohibit leavings pets in hot cars, and some grant immunity to good Samaritans who must rescue pets in visible distress. Be sure to follow the steps above before you take matter into your own hands. “An Army veteran was arrested after breaking into a car to rescue a dog, but he insists that he has absolutely no regrets over what happened. Michael Hammons reportedly smashed the window of a Mustang which had been parked near a shopping center on Saturday after passers-by noticed that a small Pomeranian-mix had been left alone in the hot car without any water. The car’s owner, however, was reportedly infuriated when she later emerged from the store. The 22-year-old woman insisted that Hammons be arrested for criminal trespassing.”– The Huffington Post. Arm yourself with information and data before the court room.
How To Break The Car Window
- Pick The Safest Window – Be sure to smash the window furthest away from the animal/child for obvious reasons. Go for the driver side window to access all the vehicle controls.
- Blunt Objects DO NOT Work – Car manufactures have made it incredibly difficult to simply smash a window for safety reasons. If you chose to toss a brick with significant force at the window, you may hurt the occupants inside or people around you if it bounces back. Use your keys or something with a point on it. Handle of a spoon will do better than a brick.
- Protect Your Self – Wrap a t-shirt around your hand with just the tip of the object showing. Place your back to the car next to the window and look away. This will ensure no glass gets into your eyes.
- Hit The Right Spot – The hardest part of the glass is the center. You want to hit the edge with moderate force. It takes little effort to break the glass with a pointy object right at the edge.
- Push The Glass Away – Now that you have a cracked window, simply push the broken chucks in and open the car. If the vehicle has tinted windows installed, take the entire window out. All of the little chunks will be blue together by the tint.
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Educate others about the dangers of leaving the dog in a vehicle. Its imperative that dog owners understand the dangers and most importantly how to react if they see one. Ask local shelters if they offer an education program to first time dog owners. If not, implement your own by giving a flyer to every new dog owner.
Other Ways Of Making A Difference
- Message To All Cars – PETA offers leaflets that can be placed on vehicles to remind people never to leave unattended animals inside. For information on ordering PETA’s “Don’t Let Your Dog Get Hot Under the Collar” leaflet, please click here.
- Dog Parks – Visit local dog parks and inform people by giving out more leaflets or a powerful speech.
- Vote – Unfortunately the majority of the United States does not have laws in place to protect good Samaritans. Inform the public and vote to protect animals!
Summer time can be an exciting time to explore the outdoors and enjoy the sun. If you wouldn’t put your dog or child in a frying pan, please don’t lock them in the vehicle. Heatstroke can happen in minutes and you’ll regret it for the rest of time. Always carry gallons of water in the trunk in case of an emergency. Dogs love us for who we are and you are the only thing he or she has got. Don’t cook your furry best friend alive and always be on the lookout to help.
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