We often like to take our dogs along with us on summertime outings. But no matter how prepared we think we are, things always come up, such as having to run a quick errand. Some owners may make the mistake of thinking that the easiest way around this is to leave their pet in the car for “just a minute or two.” This is a decision you may live to regret.

Many people don’t realize that just a few minutes can be deadly. A parked car can heat up like an oven even in a short period of time leaving pets at risk of heatstroke. Even on cooler days cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures. In this circumstance, recognizing the signs of heatstroke and taking prompt action can help save your pet’s life. Some signs of heatstroke include:

·         A body temperature of 104-110 degrees F

·         Excessive panting

·         Dark or bright red gums and tongue

·         Bloody diarrhea or vomiting

·         Staggering

·         Stupor

·          Seizures

These signs can progress to coma and death. If any of these signs are noted it is best to seek veterinary medical attention immediately. But if you are unable to seek immediate medical care, there are a few steps you can take to help your pet in the interim:

·         Find shade to get your pet out of the heat.

·         Use cool, not excessively cold, water to cool down your pet.

·         Do not cool your pet below 103 degrees as they can become too cool too quickly.

·         You can offer ice to your animal, but if they aren’t interested don’t force them to eat or drink.

Just because your animal is cooled and appears to be okay, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and brain can be affected by body temperature elevation. Blood tests and a veterinary examination will be needed to assess the pet’s condition. Further, there is a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke and it can be fatal.  

If you see a dog locked in a car in the summer, here are some things you can do to help:

·         If you know the owner, simply educate them on how dangerous it is to leave their pet in a hot car even for a short period of time.

·         If the car is in a parking lot, contact a store manager, who would be very likely to help prevent a tragedy from occurring in their own parking lot.

·         Call the local animal control officer or police.

Prevention is the best antidote. If you are traveling with your dog and need to stop, use drive-up windows at banks, pharmacies and restaurants. Shop at pet-friendly stores that will allow you to bring your dog inside to avoid leaving them in the car and risking heatstroke.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and on all holidays to assist with any type of pet emergency.