When Newtown Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason was asked about the most serious calls she gets at this time of year, the answer was not wild animals, not bears or raccoons. Instead, her answer was the most calls she gets are from residents reporting dogs left in cars on hot days.
Both Mason and Kennel Keeper Matt Schaub said that they get many such reports and that in some cases, owners become angry when advised against bringing their dogs along in hot summer weather.
According to Veterinarian Cary Brenner in Bethel, the damage caused to a dog left in the car may not even be readily visible. He said that even on a pleasant, 85 degree day with the windows left open a few inches, the temperature inside the car can still soar within only 20 minutes. “The car is way too hot. When the dog’s temperature starts to rise above the normal 101-102 degrees, essentially, the dog is cooking,” Brenner said.
Brenner listed some of the effects of heat stroke on a dog:
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Bleeding disorders
- Severe gastro-intestinal problems, including sloughing off the lining of the intestine.
A handout from the Animal Protection Institute read that even when dogs are left in the car on 75 degree days, the temperatures can still soar inside the car in no time. “Dogs can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a very short period of time before suffering brain damage or even death,” the handout read.
Brenner said that the first thing to do if the dog is overcome by the heat is to bring the dog’s temperature down by intravenous methods or by getting the dog wet with cool water. “But just because the dog’s temperature comes down and the dog looks okay, you can’t assume the dog is okay,” Brenner said.
Signs that indicate your dog may be suffering heat stroke would include that the dog is heavily panting or salivating, or worse, unconscious, Brenner said. He added that he has seen dogs tied up outside in the sun who suffered heat stroke.
“Even on a 65 degree day, with the windows cracked open, you can’t leave your dog in the car,” Brenner said.