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

“Dog days of summer” can be dangerous for pets

 July 12, 2012

As the temperature rises, so do the risks for your pet.

That’s the message from the BC SPCA as it ramps up efforts to raise awareness about the hazards and potentially fatal consequences when mixing hot summer heat and animals.

Many people like to take their dogs with them to the beach or on errands but it’s very risky to take your canine friend in your vehicle. The temperature inside a parked car at this time of year, even one that's in the shade, can climb well above 38 degrees. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage or even death. “Dogs can die after just ten minutes in a hot car,” says Craig Naherniak, BC SPCA humane education general manager. “It’s much kinder and far safer to leave your friend in a cool environment.”

Naherniak recommends the following tips for keeping your dog safe:

  • Don't leave your pet in the car. Even a car parked in the shade can pose a threat to your pet if the sun should change direction and heat up the car's interior.

  • Use caution when running, cycling or rollerblading with your pet, as these activities pose serious risks of heatstroke, accidents, and anxiety experienced by the animal. If you run or cycle with your dog, choose cooler times of day such as early morning or late evening and take plenty of breaks. Also, run on soft trails rather than on cement and asphalt, which can burn your pet's foot pads.

  • Always take water and an appropriate container from which your dog can drink.

  • Have the number of a veterinarian on hand so that you are prepared in case of an emergency.

“If you see a dog in a car on a hot day that you believe may be in trouble, call your local animal control authorities or police immediately,” advises Shawn Eccles, BC SPCA chief animal protection officer.

To avoid potential disaster, know the 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, immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place. Wet the dog with cool water including the head and feet and fan vigorously to promote evaporation. Do not apply ice, as this constricts blood flow which will inhibit cooling. Allow the dog to drink some cool water. Finally, get him to the vet right away.

Besides dogs and cats, it’s important to take good care of your small animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits and rats. Never put their cages near windows and provide shelter and shade if they are enjoying outdoor time. On the hottest days, adding dishes of ice into enclosures will assist in lower temperatures. And, of course, watch them closely so they don’t become overheated.

For more information on dogs in hot cars or to download a free brochure, visit

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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