The Dog Days of Summer

For most animal lovers, the thought of a dog left in a hot car is a scary one, but with so many people traveling with their dogs it is a situation you might encounter. Do you know what to do if you see a dog in distress?

Facts about dogs in cars

Every year, hundreds of dogs die from heat stroke after being left in a hot car. On a 78 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

The high temperatures we’ve had in Central Oregon in the past few weeks, means hot cars are even hotter! You’ve probably noticed this yourself when getting into your car after it’s been sitting for awhile. In only 15 minutes, a dog could suffer brain damage from heatstroke. Opening a window or parking in the shade does not reduce the risk of heat stroke.

Some dogs are at even higher risk of heat stroke, due to a compromised ability to regulate their temperature. This can include brachycephalic dogs (pugs, boxers, shih tzus, etc.), young puppies, elderly dogs, obese dogs, and arthritic dogs. Ask your veterinarian if your pet might have an increased risk for heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke

The following symptoms are signs of heat stroke. Use this handy guide to help you determine what the proper course of action at each stage is.

Rapid panting
Bright red tongue
Red or pale gums
Thick, sticky saliva
Depression
Weakness
Dizziness
Vomiting – sometimes with blood
Diarrhea
Shock
Coma

If your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you can help cool them off with cool water and towels and by providing them plenty to drink, and then get them to a vet ASAP. You can contact the Animal Emergency Center at 541-385-9110

What you can do

If you see an animal that appears to be suffering from heat stroke, the first step is to try to find the owner. Take down the make, model, and license plate number of the car and ask nearby businesses to page the owner. A dog in a car may not be in distress. Always make attempts to locate an owner before taking other measures. If this is unsuccessful, call local animal control. The number for Central Oregon Animal Control is (541) 693-6911.

In the event the authorities will not arrive in time and the animal’s life appears to be in imminent danger, you have the choice to find a witness to back up your assessment of the situation and take steps to remove the animal from the car. Previously, in Oregon, you could potentially face legal or civil consequences for taking this action but just this month a new law passed which “Provides that person who enters motor vehicle to remove child or domestic animal in imminent danger of suffering harm is not subject to criminal or civil liability if person meets certain requirements. ”

This law has passed in the House and the Senate and has been sent to the Governor for signature. This law requires that the Good Samaritan stay with the child or animal until first responders and police arrived or the owner of the car came back. Please inform yourself about the details of this new law and keep up to date with current animal legislation at here.

Other heat hazards

It’s not just hot cars that can endanger our pets. On hot days, animals may not be capable of their regular level of activities such as long runs and hikes, and overexertion on hot days can also lead to heat stroke. As many dog owners know, our animals don’t always know their own limits so it’s up to owners to make sure their animals aren’t over-doing it. If you are enjoying the outdoors with your dog, be sure to bring  plenty of water for them and pay attention to their breathing , giving them plenty of breaks when they need it. Even at home, extra shady spots and water bowls may need to be made available to animals spending time outside.

“You can fry an egg on the sidewalk!” If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot outside, it’s likely too hot for your dog as well. By avoiding hot pavement and sidewalks in favor of grass, walking your dog during cooler times of day, or using booties or paw wax, are all great ways to protect your pets feet from burns.

Summer is an amazing time in Central Oregon! We wish you and your furry friends a fun and safe summer!