Updated: Aug 4
With summer well under way, horror stories of dogs being left to die in hot cars are tragically common.
Earlier this month, a woman was arrested after leaving her 9 dogs in the car in 110 degree heat. All 9 suffered immensely with no way to escape. Tragically, two puppies died a slow and painful death.
And in New Hampshire, a dog suffered for hours after being left in a car in 70 degree heat with the windows up. Inside the car, the temperature was 125 degrees.
As guardians, it is essential that we take necessary precautions to protect our companion animals from needless suffering and danger.
Today, we will delve into the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars and explore ways to ensure their safety.
Heat Inside a Parked Car: A Silent Threat
To fully understand the risk, we must first acknowledge the swiftness with which a car can heat up. Even on a relatively mild 70-degree day, the interior temperature of a car can reach 90 degrees within 10 minutes. After half an hour, it could be a staggering 104 degrees. Imagine being trapped in an oven-like environment with a heavy fur coat on - that's what our dogs experience.
Dogs are not as adept as humans at cooling their bodies down. Panting and sweating through the pads of their feet are their main ways to fight heat. In a hot car, these cooling methods are woefully inadequate. Overheating can lead to heatstroke, which may cause organ failure, seizures, coma, and even death in dogs.
Dog breeds with “smushed faces,” such as pugs, bulldogs, and shih tzus are much more prone to overheating due to their short nasal passages.
Legal Consequences: A Wake-Up Call
Many people are unaware that leaving a pet in a hot car is not just inhumane, but also illegal in many jurisdictions. 31 U.S. states have laws against leaving pets in hot cars. Violators could face fines, and in severe cases, even jail time.
Simple Steps to a Safer Summer
Awareness is the first step towards a solution. Here are some effective ways we can keep our dogs safe:
Never Leave Your Dog in a Car
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Never leave your dog in a car, especially on a warm day. Even with the windows cracked, a car can become an oven in minutes. If you must run an errand, it's better to leave your dog at home.
Sharing knowledge about the danger of hot cars can help protect more dogs. If you see someone leaving their dog in a parked car, don't be afraid to kindly remind them of the risks involved.
Know the Signs of Heatstroke
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs, which include excessive panting, drooling, red or pale gums, increased heart rate, vomiting, and unsteadiness. If you notice any of these signs, it's essential to act quickly to cool your dog down and seek veterinary care.
Have a Contingency Plan
If you encounter a dog in distress in a hot car, know what steps to take. Call local animal control, the non-emergency number for the police, or a local animal shelter. If you feel you must break into a car to save an animal's life, that is the humane thing to do, but be aware that in some states, you may face legal consequences. Other states allow citizens to break into cars to save animals. Check for "Good Samaritan" laws in your area.
Innovative Solutions for Dog Safety
Technology can play a part in dog safety too. Some car manufacturers now offer features like rear occupant alerts, which can notify the driver if a dog (or a child) is left in the back seat. There are also standalone devices and mobile apps that can alert you if your car's interior gets too hot.
We must remember that our canine companions depend on us for their safety. Let's use this knowledge to make a difference, spread awareness, and ensure no dog has to suffer in a hot car. With the summer heat upon us, it's the perfect time to start.
By understanding the dangers, spreading the word, and staying prepared, we can make the world a safer place for our four-legged friends.
Beyond Cars: Stray Dogs Suffer in Summer Heat
It’s also important to consider the hundreds of millions of stray dogs who suffer in summer temperatures with absolutely no relief.
A local animal rescue center in India reported rescuing over 85 dogs suffering from heatstroke symptoms in just two weeks.
Stray dogs may not be suffering in hot cars, but without a loving home and guardian, they suffer just the same in the unavoidable heat.
That’s why 600 Million Dogs is working on a humane, permanent solution. Our nonprofit science-centered mission is to significantly reduce animal suffering on a global scale by developing a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats!
No dog should be left to suffer from a slow and painful death from overheating!