Despite ongoing warnings and public service announcements about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars, BC SPCA constables are being inundated with calls this summer to rescue pets left in parked vehicles. Last month alone, the BC SPCA responded to 228 calls to rescue dogs in distress who had been left in hot cars by their guardians.
“The media is wonderful about helping us get the message out that it can be fatal to leave your pet in a hot car, even for 10 minutes, but still we receive hundreds of calls about animals in distress,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “We can’t stress strongly enough how dangerous this is for your pet.”
With temperatures soaring across British Columbia this week, the SPCA is urging people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe.
“The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet,” says Chortyk. “In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.” Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes - before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.
Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.
If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:
Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
Wet the dog with cool water
Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.
“If you’re used to letting your dog accompany you on errands, you might feel guilty leaving him behind on hot summer days. But your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says.
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.