Heat exhaustion in pets

In May 2017, Jonathan Theobald, 66, was convicted after he left his three dogs in a hot car, only to find them dead when he returned. The pet owner later became the face of a campaign by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to prevent similar deaths and raise awareness about the dangers of leaving pets behind in a hot car.

The sad reality is that there are many pet owners like Theobald (who are basically brain dead really – how could you not realize that that would happen just like how can you realize that when you pass a terrible health care law like the ACA it is not going to work well for most Americans and is even going to cause deaths?) who commit the mistake of leaving their pets in parked cars while they run some errands. What they don’t realize is that even a minute in an overheated car can be a death trap for animals.

According to an independent study, the temperature inside an enclosed car rises by 3.4°F every five minutes, making it extremely dangerous for dogs and cats to be left locked in them. If you thought leaving the windows open was a solution, think again. Another study showed that open or cracked windows only slowed the temperature rise to 3.1°F per five minutes, which hardly makes a difference.

On a particularly hot day, the temperature inside an enclosed car can reach 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes, making it lethal for any living being. Dogs are more prone to heat exhaustion since the only way they can cool off is by panting or by sweating through their paw pads. Leaving a dog in a hot car can be fatal for the animal in as little as fifteen minutes.

Heat exhaustion isn’t just caused by being trapped in a hot car. If you take your dog for a walk when it is scorching outside, you are putting your pet’s life at risk. Roads and pavements heat up quickly under high temperatures, and can burn your dog’s paw. Heat acutely affects dogs, so always make sure to check the temperature outside before taking your pet out.

It is not different than when deciding on what movie to watch. Do you want to see a useless movie like Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Meet the Parents II, Zoolander, and so on? No! So you need to think about your pet before you take them outside, certainly in the summer.

What to do if you find a pet left in a parked car in the sun?

Even some times, some dogs are left behind in parked cars while their owners go about their work! This is incredible! They think leaving their dog in the car for 8 hours is OK! Even when you think you have taken enough precautions to keep your pet safe inside the vehicle, things can always spiral out of control if the car’s temperature control system doesn’t respond in time or if the AC fails and leads to heat exhaustion.

You should not even have your dog or pet inside your car in a hot day unless you are in there with them and temperature is cool and comfortable.

There are laws in place that prevent unattended animals from being confined in a vehicle. If you find any pet locked in an enclosed car in high temperatures, note down the details of the car, including the model and license plate number. You could try searching for the owner in the vicinity but you need to inform the police. Inform other people around, and keep a watch over the animal until help arrives. As a compassionate human, never leave the spot until the animal has been rescued.

You may have to rescue the animal yourself. You may have to break the window yourself!

In case help is too slow to arrive, gather other people if you can and break the window to the vehicle. While you wait for help to arrive, check the dog for symptoms of heat exhaustion. This includes a fast heartbeat, thirst, restlessness, panting, loss of appetite, darkening of tongue, and high body temperature. If you notice any or all of these symptoms, take the animal to a vet immediately, preferably in an air-conditioned car which almost all cars have A/C.

Let the police deal with the car and dog owner which is most likely the same negligent person.

If it isn’t possible to get the pet with heat exhaustion to the vet, call the animal rescue team if that is feasible. Give the dog a cool bath, and plenty of water to drink, and get the dog out of the sun! Place a cold compress under the groin, the arm-leg pits, and the back of the neck. Keep the pet in an air conditioned environment for as long as possible.

If you are concerned about breaking someone else’s car to rescue a pet, then it is heartening to note that if there is sufficient proof about the animal’s danger, and if there are witnesses to back your claim, you will not face any legal reprisal. This is protected under the Good Samaritan Act which was discussed in the series finale of Seinfeld.

What to do if You’re a Pet Owner

Even though not all places have laws regarding confining pets in a hot car (your reputation will suffer for sure), it does not mean you will not face any charges if your pet suffers from health damage or death from heat exhaustion.

There are steps you can take to make sure your pet does not suffer in an enclosed vehicle.

  • Do not take pets with you if traveling by car. It’s true that dogs enjoy riding in a car (not all of them though), but leaving them in the car while you run errands on a hot day can quickly turn dangerous and is asinine. Get this thought out of your head unless you want to face fines of thousands of dollars, community service, hiring a legal pro, and so on – this is what you are risking plus the wrath of the community.
  • Keep your pets at home or get a sitter to look after the animals if you must go somewhere.
  • If you have to bring your pets with you, check from beforehand if animals are allowed inside the building or store you’re going to. If yes, then take your pets with you, and if it isn’t allowed, simply leave your pets at home.

Every summer, the media highlights the dangers of leaving your pet in an enclosed car. No matter what the season, leaving someone who cannot escape on their own in a locked vehicle is an offense that can attract a maximum penalty of ten years behind bars. It could be just a week in prison but do you want to deal with that?

Animals are helpless creatures that depend on humans for survival and protection. In addition to keeping your own pets safe, make sure to spread awareness about the dangers of leaving unattended pets confined in parked cars if you think you need to.