It’s August and the heat index is soaring throughout the country. While modern conveniences can keep us cool, our canine companions suffer through these “dog days of summer” in much less comfort.
When the heat first hit earlier this summer, I was having a conversation with an officer from the local humane shelter. While we talked, call after call came across her radio of reports about dogs being left in cars. The outside temperature was pushing 100 degrees.
“When the warm weather starts, that’s what most of our calls are for – responding to dogs left in parked cars,” she said.
It’s astounding to me that someone would leave their dog in a car – even for “just a minute” – when the temperature is pushing 100 degrees, but apparently way too many people do. This tragic story out of North Carolina illustrates just how horrible death by heat stroke is, and that even people knowledgeable about dogs can make bad decisions. It’s also a perfect example of just how sensitive dogs are when it comes to heat – temperatures that day were in the mid- to high-70s with thunderstorms in the area.
Sadly, just eight days prior to the event above, a North Carolina veterinarian, Dr. Ernie Ward of Calabash, took to a parked car on a typical summer’s day and documented exactly how hot it gets in just minutes.
Ward’s public-awareness video, which has gone viral on Facebook, YouTube and other social media outlets, clearly shows how fast temperatures rise in a parked car, even with all four windows cracked a couple of inches and a breeze blowing outside.
In just five minutes, the temperature inside the car was close to 100 degrees. At 10 minutes, was at 106 degrees. At 30 minutes, it had risen to 115 degrees.
Ward describes how uncomfortable the situation is how dangerous it is for your dog.
What you have to remember, and what Ward touches on, is that dogs are adapted to survive cold weather – hot weather is far more dangerous for them. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat. When you perspire, your body is regulating its temperature through evaporative cooling. A dog doesn’t have that luxury – all that heat is internalized, adding to the danger. Compounding the threat, some dogs have warm, thick or double coat that traps even more heat.
Also consider that a dog’s core body temperature is around 101 degrees, and if it rises much above 104 degrees they are in serious danger of dying from heat stress.
If you do see a dog locked in a car on a hot day, your best bet is to call the authorities – either the police or local animal-control officers immediately so that they can take appropriate action to keep the dog safe and educate (or possibly discipline) the owner.