Hot Dogs Are Meant for the Grill, Not the Car!

Keeping dogs out of hot cars

With warm weather finally on the horizon, we all have an excuse to get out and enjoy the beauty of Loudoun County and surrounding areas with our pets this summer.   But as the mercury rises, please take some extra consideration when planning trips with your pets.  While it is convenient to bring Fido along as you run errands on your way to the dog park or lake,  it’s importance to remember that car temperatures increase at a much quicker rate compared to the outside air temperature.

According to  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), hundreds of pets die each year from heat-related stresses because they are left in parked cars.  The AVMA has a great article posted on their website with suggestions for keeping your pet safe during car travel.

As the AVMA discusses (and as outlined in the chart below), the temperature inside a car can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes and 34º F in 30 minutes.  That means if the outside air temperature is 75º F, the temperature inside the car is 109º F!  The AVMA  also reported that cracking the windows has little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.

keep dogs out of hot cars

Recognizing and Responding to Heat Stroke

Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not sweat.  Instead, excess heat is released by panting and through the pads of their feet.  While heat-related stresses and heat stroke (hyperthermia) can occur to any animal, smaller-nosed breeds like Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs, and cats such as Persians and Himalayans, are more susceptible because of their shorter nasal airways; they cannot breathe and pant as efficiently as breeds with longer noses.  Other animals who may be more susceptible are those with thick fur or overweight.

Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, excessive drooling, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  If you notice these symptoms, call us immediately.   Do not immerse your pet in ice or cold water – this can lead to shock. Instead, mist your pet with cool water at home and en route to the hospital.  Left untreated, heat stroke can cause serious damage to organs and may lead to seizures, coma, and death.

So go ahead- plan a day to the lake, beach, or park this summer with your favorite furry friend.  But while you’re grilling up some dogs and burgers, make sure your pet is relaxing the day away under a big shade tree!

RELATED: A message about feeding ice to pets.

We have been hearing of recent concerns about feeding ice and ice water to dogs causing health problems.  Please be aware that this is an internet rumor that has been circulating for several years.

According to LVH’s Dr. Jennifer Boyle, there is no documented or suspected link between feeding ice/ice water to dogs or cats and serious health concerns.  The only exception would be that it is not recommended to give anything cold by mouth to a small neonate (ie. an animal less than 2 months old that weighs less than 5 lbs) because it could lower their body temperature.

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