Every summer, countless dogs die in their owners’ cars from heatstroke. Even just a quick jaunt to the supermarket can mean death for your four-legged friend. Even if the window is opened a crack, the temperature inside of a parked car can skyrocket in minutes. Not only does this cause your trapped dog to panic; it can also lead to serious brain damage or even death.
Why is the interior of a parked car so dangerous for dogs?
- Dogs barely sweat. They regulate their body temperature almost exclusively by panting and in addition require a lot of water.
- When parked, even if your car is not directly in the sun, heavy breathing is not enough, as the temperature can shoot up in a matter of minutes.
How can animal lovers react if they see a dog locked in a car when it’s hot?
- If it is a supermarket car park, you can try to have an announcement made for the owner of a car.
- Draw other people’s attention to the dog.
- If possible, document the situation with a photo.
- If the owner returns in time, explain the danger of a hot car interior.
- If the animal cannot be freed from the car in a few minutes, call the local authorities!
How can I help an overheated dog?
- Cool the dog down carefully! If possible, get him into the shade quickly!
- He is heavily dehydrated and desperately needs water at the right temperature – do NOT give cold water!
- Moist compresses on the legs and paws help; the evaporation of water helps to lower his body temperature.
- If your dog is not reacting and can’t drink by himself anymore, he must be taken to a vet immediately so that he can receive the missing fluids via infusions.
Summer without a heat collapse
High temperatures can quickly put our pets’ health at risk. With a few tricks, you can help your best friend cool down so that he can get through the hottest weeks of the year unscathed. Should an emergency still occur, you will need to react quickly and properly. By Isabel Neumeister, NEWS animal expert
Most pets can’t tolerate the heat very well. High temperatures can become a serious health risk. As a result, as a responsible pet owner, you should follow some basic rules:
Increase quiet time when it’s hot. Seek out cool locations especially in the scorching midday heat. Always provide enough fresh water and a shady place to retreat. Only place the cages of birds and small animals at a window in the morning, for a short time, if at all. Don’t forget that the sun travels throughout the day. Rabbits are particularly sensitive to the heat. A sunshade for an outdoor enclosure on your balcony or in your garden is not enough. Have your rodents relax in a cool spot during the hottest parts of the day.
While many dogs love to go for a refreshing swim, cats tend to be afraid of water.
Our feline friends are able to swim, however, they usually have a hard time getting out of the water by themselves without a suitable exit. Pools can be life-threatening for cats.
Instead, laying a cool, damp towel on your cat’s head, neck and back is a refreshing way to cool her off. If she puts up with it.
Extreme fluctuations in temperature are particularly hard on an animal’s circulation.
Be careful with your air conditioning, as excessive cooling is unnatural for your pet and can lead to a cold.
Provide your pets with well-ventilated spaces. That being said, constant draughts can be harmful and can also cause a cold. Cats and rodents are very sensitive in this regard. For this reason, it is best to air the room in short bursts at regular intervals. Be careful with fans – make sure the spinning rotor blades have been secured.
Adjust the amount of food in hot summer months, giving lighter food so that your pet’s body isn’t stressed. A decreased appetite is no cause for concern. Your pets have lower energy needs due to increased inactivity. Therefore, smaller portions are plenty. Feed your pet during the cooler times of the day (morning and evening). Be careful with meat and wet food, as it spoils more easily in the heat. As a result, do not just leave it out.
How to recognise an emergency and act accordingly
Recognise symptoms of heatstroke quickly. Typical signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, apathy, hyperventilating (excessive panting) and even shock. When dogs are overheated, they usually pant and drool very heavily. When this happens, you must act quickly and properly:
1. Immediately remove your pet from the heat and bring him to a cool, shady area. Cool him off with moist, cool (never cold!) compresses on his head, throat and neck.
2. Gentle massages help to stimulate the circulation.
3. Rescue drops (Bach flowers) from the chemist also help.
4. Go to the vet.
5. If he has overheated, your pet will need extra rest the following couple of days.
Tips on how to keep them cool
Once the temperature gets above a certain point, animals are no longer able to regulate their body temperature and overheat. This is why it is absolutely imperative to spare your four-legged friend the scorching heat. Walks and other activities should take place during the cooler morning or evening hours. Let Fido get plenty of rest in a cool location during the hottest part of the day.
Cars are an absolute taboo in the summer. The interior of the vehicle can reach up to 100° in just a short amount of time. In such cases, leaving the window open a crack or giving them a water bowl does not help anymore. Leave all windows plus the boot (using a holder) open to create constant ventilation. Water must also be available. Sun shades, especially on the wind shield, do slightly reduce the time it takes for a car to heat up. Despite all of these precautions, you should only leave your pet in a vehicle for a very short, controlled amount of time.
You should also always have fresh water at hand when on the go. Puddles and stagnant ponds are not suitable sources of drinking water. For dogs that pant heavily when hot, take special care to make up for the loss of fluids.
Dogs with pale or very short coats generally tolerate the sun worse than dark-haired ones. Use sunscreen to protect his sensitive skin, as dogs can also get sunburned. A long, thick coat can be quite a burden in the summer, but it also plays an insulating role. Whether your dog is better off with a short summer do depends on his breed, and can differ from dog to dog. It’s best to ask your vet.