Our mission: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

 May 27, 2010

Hot dogs belong on the barbecue — not in your car.

With the lazy, hazy, hot days of summer steadily approaching, the BC SPCA reminds pet guardians to play it cool with their animals this year, and offers tips on how to keep pets safe.

First off, don't leave your pet in the car.

"Every year, we receive hundreds of complaints about dogs left in hot cars because many people still don't grasp the danger of this situation," says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. "Even if you park in the shade and it seems cool outside when you leave, the sun can change direction and heat up a car's interior in no time."

Last year, the BC SPCA received more than 500 complaints about dogs in hot cars across the province.

The temperature inside a parked car at this time of year — even one that's in the shade — can climb well about 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time — usually just 10 minutes — before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

If you see a dog languishing in a hot car, call the municipal animal control authorities in your area or local police. Before the authorities arrive, members of the public can help prevent a tragedy by attempting to find the animal's guardian. If the car is in a mall or grocery store parking lot, for example, ask to have the owner paged over the building's PA system. If a window on the vehicle is cracked open, try to increase the airflow inside by fanning the pet with a portable fan.

In addition to not leaving pets in the car at this time of year, guardians should use caution when exercising their pets under the sweltering summer sun.

"A lot of dogs will run and play to the point of exhaustion, and it's the guardian's responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen," says Chortyk.

Chortyk also cautions against cycling with your dog, and if you run with your dog, try to run early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. Also, try to stay away from asphalt because it can burn your dog's foot pads.

"Whatever you plan to do with your dog this summer, always bring water and the number of a vet with you so that you're prepared in case of an emergency," says Chortyk.


Signs of heatstroke in pets:

  * exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting);

  * rapid or erratic pulse;

  * salivation;

  * weakness and muscle tremors;

  * lack of coordination;

  * convulsions or vomiting; and

  * collapse.


If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should:

  * immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place;

  * wet the dog with cool water;

  * fan vigorously to promote evaporation. Do not apply ice, which constricts blood flow;

  * allow the dog to drink some cool water; and

   * take the dog to a veterinarian.


You can help the BC SPCA raise awareness and educate guardians on proper animal care and welfare, by supporting the Monty Fund for Community Education & Outreach. Please donate today.


The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

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