PET HEALTH: Dogs and Cars
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
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More than other animals, dogs love to ride in cars. Summertime finds any number of cars on the highway with a canine head sticking out of a window, catching the breeze
with a look of ecstasy on his face. All of the wonderful smells to absorb, glimpses of other dogs walking with their owners, views of other animals such as squirrels, bunnies and cats to dream of chasing – there’s nothing better for a dog. But what happens when the ride ends and we run into a store, “just for a minute” to get something? Many people believe that if they leave the windows down some, their pet will be fine. That’s especially true when it isn’t stifling hot but merely warm, at say, 72 degrees. But that’s a common fallacy, one that more and more municipalities are seeking to deal with through laws designed to protect pets from summer heat. In some locations you can be arrested for leaving a dog in a car and in others, your car can be towed away while you’re doing your shopping.
Because dogs can’t sweat like people can, even a small degree of heat can be deadly for them. And waiting in a car is the worst of all since rolling down windows helps very little, if at all, in keeping the temperature down. The video, chart, and articles linked below will give you an idea of how dangerous this practice really is, even at relatively cool temperatures. When I take my dog for a ride to the store, I lock him in the car with the air conditioning running on high, and even with that precaution, if I’m going to be longer than 10 minutes, I come out and check on him every 10 minutes or so. If it’s extremely hot, say in the mid-80s or above, he stays home, no matter how much he carries on when he sees me ready to leave. As my best friend, those are the least things I can do to protect him so that we have lots of exciting trips together in the future. If you see a dog in a parked car without air when it’s hot, call 911 and wait until someone arrives to help.
If you think you’re not taking any chances with your own dog because you’ve never had a problem before, please review the information below and think again, just to be safe. The heartbreak that comes with an accidental death from a preventable case of heat stroke will last a lifetime in your memory. And “If only,,,” won’t bring your friend back.
Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
How hot do cars get? Since it’s summer and we’re added a section on pet health, we’re addressing a common fallacy that if you open the windows a bit, your dog will be fine if he’s left in your car for a few minutes. The charts on this webpage will demonstrate how little outside temperature relates to the temperatures inside a car for a pet:
“A study from Stanford shows that even on comparatively cool days, such as 72 degrees, a car’s internal temperature will rocket to 116 degrees within 60 minutes. And keeping the windows open a crack hardly slows down the rise at all.”
Pets in hot cars How dangerous is it to leave a pet or a child alone in a car on a day that’s merely warm? See this article for a good discussion of the subject:
“It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Most people don’t realize how hot it can get in a parked car on a balmy day. However, on a 78 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees — and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun!
Even when the outside air temperature is in the 60s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach the danger zone on bright, sunny days. So many experts recommend not to leave pets or children in parked cars even for short periods if the temperature is in the 60s or higher.
Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn’t guarantee protection either, since temperatures still can climb into the danger zone. And if the window is rolled down sufficiently, the pet can escape. Plus if a passer-by claims he or she was bitten through the car window, the pet owner will be liable.”
…Animals are not able to sweat like humans do. Dogs cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paws. If they have only overheated air to breathe, animals can collapse, suffer brain damage and possibly die of heatstroke. Just 15 minutes can be enough for an animal’s body temperature to climb from a normal 102.5 to deadly levels that will damage the nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatose, dehydrated and at risk of permanent impairment or death.” [Emphasis added.]
Dog Care: Your Car Is An Oven! is a public service article by the Weather Channel. This page also contains information for keeping your pet cool outside the car since heat is so much more dangerous for pets than it is for their human owners.
Keep Canines Cool: Don’t Leave Dogs in Hot Cars! – Sign the personal pledge to raise awareness and act when pets are at risk. This site has info on how dangerous hot cars are for dogs, and it contains a link to sign a personal pledge to protect your own pet and to assist any dogs you may see suffering in a hot car.
Dog Care: Protect Pets From Summer Scorchers This article by the American Animal Hospital Association covers care for pets in hot weather, both inside and out of cars. It has a number of tips for making sure you dog enjoys the warm weather with you for a long time. Tips include making sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times, limiting exercise when it’s very hot and providing adequate shelter. That includes ensuring your pet can retreat to the shade when it’s sunny because it’s even easier for him to overheat in direct sunlight than it is for you. Finally, watch for these symptoms and take steps immediately should there be a problem despite your precautions:
If your pet is panting, has a staring or anxious expression, does not obey commands, has warm, dry skin and a high fever, rapid heartbeat, or is vomiting, lower the body temperature quickly with cool water – either by immersion or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose. Call your veterinarian immediately.
It’s important for us to think of our pets and provide the best care we can for them. They are created by God and given to us as gifts that add to our enjoyment of life, and in addition, they demonstrate many traits that reflect their divine origin. We can learn a great deal from them and God uses them in many ways. But because they are dependent on us, He has given us the task of caring for them properly. In the summer, our responsibilities increase because of their susceptibility to heat. But bearing a few simple rules in mind will make the season enjoyable both for you and your pets.
Your physical health is very important, but of even greater importance is your spiritual health. Man suffers from a fatal spiritual disease called sin, which always leads to death.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.