All pet owners are familiar with heat stroke; however, this is still a crisis that occurs far too commonly. While hot cars during summer months are the number one cause, it is important to remind ourselves that this is not the only place where pets can suffer from heat stroke. Here we look at important causes of heat stroke, as well as some shocking statistics.
Heat Stroke Outdoors
Dogs do not have sweat glands like humans and so their core temperatures rise quickly. Panting is the main mechanism for heat loss in dogs that are exercising. On hot and humid days, think carefully about how active your dog should be. Long walks on warm days are wonderful; just don't forget your dog’s needs differ from your own. In particular, dogs with known medical conditions should have their activity level reduced during warmer parts of the day.
Dogs that live outside, or spend a considerable amount of time outside in the yard, should be considered at high risk of heat stroke. Ensure there is good quality shade, water bowls that are topped up throughout the day, and protection from surfaces that get hot in the sun (such as asphalt). On very hot days, even outdoor dogs may be better off indoors.
Heat Stroke When Traveling
The same dangers of heat stroke exist when traveling, whether by road, rail or air. Always take into consideration the unique needs of your pet. Ensure there is plentiful water and plan regular breaks on long journeys.
Heat Stroke in Cars
Even with windows opened slightly to improve air circulation, the temperature rises rapidly in parked cars (even on what you might consider a mild day). We hope that a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005 will make you think twice about leaving pets (or children) in the car. The study, conducted over sixteen days with outside temperatures of between 72°F and 96°F, revealed the following:
- Within the first ten minutes, the temperature inside the car rose by 19°F
- After twenty minutes, the inside car temperature was 29°F higher than the original temperature
- After a total of thirty minutes, the temperature inside the car had reached a staggering 34°F higher than the original temperature
What is particularly important to see is that most of the heating occurred in the first twenty minutes (80%). The study also showed that partially opening the windows had little to no effect on reducing the temperature increase, and that the vehicle’s interior color was a significant factor (darker colors being the worst).
The conclusion to be drawn here is:
NEVER LEAVE A PET UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE.
Heat stroke is a potentially life threatening emergency that is completely avoidable. Spread the word this summer and let’s ensure no pets are lost this way.
Content Reviewed By A Veterinarian
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