The sun shines bright, the days are long, and temperatures are on the rise – Summer’s here and so are all the fun outdoor adventures! Living in BC, we’re lucky to have loads of options for getting outside and enjoying nature, from rainforests to beaches and mountain hikes. But, it’s important to remember that dogs experience heat wayyyy differently than we do.
Never underestimate the serious risks of leaving your dog in a parked car — even for “just a few minutes.”
While running a quick errand or grabbing a coffee might seem innocent enough, even a brief stay in a sweltering vehicle can have disastrous consequences! The interior temperature can skyrocket within minutes, (see chart ➡️) leading to heatstroke or even death. Dogs can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively as us since they don’t sweat. As a result, they suffer the heat more than we do and are likely to overheat. Symptoms of heat-related distress in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, weakness, vomiting, and collapse, which can be fatal in severe cases.
If leaving your dog at home is not an option, there are some measures you can take to keep them cool inside the vehicle.
Consider picking up an Aluminet shade cloth, or a cooling mat, or cooling dog shirts or vests. Ask for recommendations from trainers involved in outdoor dog sport activities like agility, nose work, or rally trials, as they’ve got expertise in keeping dogs cool during extended periods in a vehicle. If you think your dog is experiencing heat-related distress, act quickly! Move them to a cooler area, offer water, and use cool (not cold) water to wet their head, neck, groin, and paws.
When travelling and camping with your dog, be sure your vehicle is well-ventilated (windy hair — don’t care) and provide plenty of water. Take regular breaks on your drive to let them to cool down outside your vehicle. A quick dip in a lake or river on the way is always greatly appreciated by our dog, Ditto. And remember some dogs, like seniors, short-snouted Brachycephalic dogs and black dogs like ours, can overheat faster than others.
If the dog appears to be in distress and is showing signs of heatstroke, call your local animal control, RCMP, or the BCSPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722BC SPCA
Responding to DistressED Pets — THE RIGHT WAY
If you see a dog left in a hot car, take note of the license plate and vehicle details. Ask employees in nearby retailers to page the owner to return immediately. If the dog appears to be in distress and is showing signs of heatstroke, call your local animal control, RCMP, or the BCSPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722 immediately!! We believe most people have good intentions and wanna’ help, but the BC SPCA advises against breaking a window. Only police and certain BC SPCA special constables have the authority to enter a vehicle to assist a pet.
Breaking glass can harm you or the dog and might even put you at risk of legal trouble. Instead, keep a small kit with water, a collapsible bowl, and a towel that can be soaked in water and shared through a slightly opened window until help arrives.
Prevention is key, so remember to never leave your dog alone in a parked car, even if you anticipate being away for just a few minutes. It’s just not worth it.
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