It’s a weekend. You have so much to do but very little time. Your dog needs his walk, the grocery store beckons, and that visit to the vet regarding a recurring rash on your dog can’t be delayed any further. And you attempt to do it all in one fell swoop.
You breeze into the vet’s office, take your dog for his walk, and then leave your pup in the car to make a brief appearance at the grocery to pick up a few things. It should be fine, right? What could go wrong? Everything! Leaving your furry friend in your car can have terrible consequences. Think it is all gibberish? Keep reading, and you will understand soon enough.
Cars and heat
Ever parked your car in the summer and come back to it hours later? What was it like? Blistering hot, I am certain. Your car absorbs heat rapidly and loses the heat rather slowly. This creates a car interior which is extremely hot and uncomfortable. And there’s the high probability of the temperature inside the car surpassing that outside! Which makes a parked car a bad waiting spot for your dog.
Imagine staying in that car for hours without turning on the air conditioning. It might be unpleasant, but you will be alright – all thanks to homeostasis (your body regulates the increase in temperature). But with your dog, things will take a different turn. The fur that covers their bodies isn’t exactly helpful in the heat. It’s like donning a leather suit in the desert. They might try panting which is how dogs regulate their body temperature. But this can only do so much especially if the temperature increase persists.
At some point in your life, you must have been told the popular line ‘wait in the car’. How was your experience? Pleasant or anxious? The latter I suppose, especially if you are unfamiliar with that environment. And the same scenario plays out when you leave your dog in the car. They become nervous since they are not sure of your whereabouts. So you shouldn’t downplay the effect of anxiety on the state of your dog. Stress is the result of such a situation. And you don’t want that for your furry friends.
Beware of heatstroke
Leaving your dog in the car leaves him susceptible to heatstroke. The sweat glands in his foot pad might help in curbing the increase in body temperature, but this wouldn’t suffice in a parked car. Panting is usually their only viable approach at redemption. Yet, their continued stay in the unpleasantly hot car makes it counterproductive. Then a heatstroke sets in, and it wrecks havoc on your furry friend. From excessive drooling to increased heart rate, the signs speak of a life-threatening situation. If this happens getting your dog to a vet is essential before the undesired happens.
Ventilation isn’t enough
And as much as we want to believe it, leaving the windows open doesn’t really make the dangers associated with leaving your pup in a parked car disappear. Frankly, it has little effect on the interior of the car. Your dog can still suffer from heatstroke and trauma of such a situation regardless of how many windows are left open in your car. The air-conditioning isn’t reliable either since there is every possibility that your canines can tamper with its functioning when left untended. So don’t leave your dog in a parked car period. It won’t end well.
Hot or cold day?
The danger of leaving your dog in a parked car doesn’t also disappear if it’s cloudy, raining or cold outside. The temperature in a car that’s parked will continuously rise regardless of the weather outside. The only difference from a hot day is the rate at which this temperature raises. So leaving your dog in a parked car remains a big no regardless of how cloudy the sky is or how cool the temperatures outdoors are.
Possible signs of heat exhaustion
But how can you tell if your dog has suffered from heat exhaustion after being left in a parked car? Below are signs you should take note of when examining your dog:
- Increase in his saliva production
- The dog has difficulty breathing
- Excessive panting (the dog’s attempts at decreasing his body temperature)
- The dog’s heart rate hits the roof
What can be done?
If your dog has just suffered from a heat stroke in your parked vehicle (or due to another situation), there are certain ways you can help your pup to regulate his body temperature and regain his health. However, this will depend on how long he has been exposed to the heat. Below are the steps to take if your dog has suffered a heatstroke:
- Soak the dog’s body (besides his head) in a pool of cool water
- Place a pack of ice on the back of the dog’s head
- Rub the dog’s legs to increase blood flow there
- Give the dog plenty of water to drink, since cool water will help the dog improve his body temperature
And even if your dog recovers after the heatstroke or never exhibited any signs of a heat exhaustion, you still have to speak to your vet and ask them to examine your pup thoroughly. The complications of heatstroke are enormous, and the life of your furry friend could be in danger if you act nonchalantly about the situation.
Have you seen a dog in a parked car?
While the discussion of how dangerous it is to leave your dog in a parked car might sound like a broken record, even now it still remains a huge problem. Many pet owners still leave their pups in hot cars. And lots of dogs have passed away due to the actions of their owners. So if you see a dog in a parked car, consider following these instructions:
- Call the police or the relevant authorities. It is the legal thing to do. But the dog’s condition can still nosedive while you’re waiting for a response. So what should you do
- Play a detective and find out who owns the vehicle and where the car’s owner is currently. Chances are that he or she is nearby and can come to unlock the car and let the pup out of the hot vehicle
- But if that isn’t possible, don’t use force to smash the car’s window and let the dog out that way. You will only end up paying for the damages. Better involve more people to help you look for the vehicle’s owner while you wait for the authorities