Hot and bothered under the collar

Summer’s on the way. Hot and bothered dogs locked in cars on a hot day can die of heat stress in just 5 to 10 minutes.

Dr. Jen of the Village Vet in Darling writes “A little something for you to try: time how long it takes you to do that quick stop at the Spar to just get a few things. The average time to get 4 things is 25 minutes and if your dog has been locked in your car during that time on a hot summer’s day, they may well die of heat stroke.

Studies show that it takes only 5 to 10 minutes for a dog to die of heat stress. When you leave the window open a bit and quickly pop into the shops or the post office or to drop something off at a friend, your dog does not understand that they need to stay calm and lie quietly in order to keep themselves cool. You might also be returning from having a run on the beach or in the park so body temperature is already raised!! They expect to be able to get out of the car with you and when that doesn’t happen, they get agitated, and as a result, the heart rate and respiratory rate increase. Dogs pant to keep themselves cool, sort of an air conditioning as moisture evaporates from the lungs.

However, all this panting increases humidity and this mix can be fatal. On a 26 degree day, (and we’ve had a lot of those lately) the temperature inside a car, even with the window open will get to 37 degrees within ten minutes and at this temperature heat stress strikes. On a humid day this time interval can be as short as 5 minutes. Remember, dogs can’t sweat like we do, we would get hot and rather sweaty in a car on a 38 degree day, but we’d be ok, for your dog it can be fatal.

Cars are not the only danger on hot days. The tar on roads can get very hot in summer, you won’t feel it through your shoes, but dogs can burn their feet really badly with the pads of their feet sloughing off in severe cases. 5 Second rule: if you can’t keep the top of your hand against the tar for 5 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog on. Even just playing with another dog or running repeatedly to fetch a ball in the middle of the day can cause heat stress. A midday walk can be life threatening!! It is vital to ensure that on hot days the dogs have access to unlimited amounts of clean, cool water and that there is adequate shade where they can lie down and cool off.

So after your morning, walk with your dog or dogs, please, please take them straight home and make sure they have a good drink of water. If it’s unavoidable that you’ll need to stop somewhere on the way home, then take a friend with you so that they can wait with the dogs outside the car. If you think they might be running a bit hot, spray them down with some water and put a fan on them. Any dog that is showing signs of anxiety and restlessness with red inflamed gums and can’t seem to stop panting is showing early signs of heat stress and must be cooled down quickly in order to prevent further complications developing.

Let’s keep our animals safe and healthy this summer.”

With love from all of us @ The Village Vet

( Cats also overheat in cars so only travel with them during the cooler parts of the day)


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