Spring is an important time to remind owners that leaving your pet in a vehicle for even a short period of time can be fatal. As outside temperatures begin to increase, the inside temperatures of vehicles can quickly become extreme. Even with windows partially rolled down, a vehicle can reach temperatures that may lead to heat stroke or death. A vehicle’s interior temperature can surpass 130 degrees in a matter of minutes on a hot day. Owners should also cool their vehicle down prior to placing their pet inside for necessary trips to the veterinarian or other outings on hot days as heat stroke may occur. If the vehicle feels hot to you then it is likely too hot for your pet. In the event that you see a pet locked in a car on a hot day and are unable to locate the owner, it is important to contact animal law enforcement officers to address the issue. Never attempt to enter a vehicle without owner’s permission or the assistance of an officer as it may result in criminal charges. Pets experiencing heat stroke should always be evaluated by a veterinarian. Signs of heat stroke include: excessive panting and drooling (which may lead to difficulty swallowing), disorientation or loss of consciousness, collapse, and/or increased body temperature above 102 degrees. Immediate action should be taken to avoid damage to vital organs or death. Remember that rapidly decreasing a pet’s body temperature can also result in hypothermia. If the pet is experiencing heat stroke, placing cool wet towels on their inner thighs, along their back, and neck can aide in reducing their body temperature. If the pet is conscious offer small amounts of cool water. NEVER assume that because their body temperature returns to normal that the pet no longer needs veterinary care. Heat stroke can cause dehydration and damage to vital organs and therefore the pet should receive a full evaluation.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on transporting pets on hot days or visit: http://www.aspca.org/Blog/~/media/files/pet-care/pets-in-hot-cars.pdf
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff