As we all know everyone loves to take their animals for car rides. Summer months most of all. Unfortunately, this is not always a great idea. Things arise that you don’t expect, like stopping in to visit a friend or going to a store for something and your cuddly little buddy may not be allowed to go.
While we do try our best to keep them cool by leaving fresh drinking water and partially opening windows, this does not create enough moving air for proper ventilation. The inner core temperature of the car can rise quite fast, up to 102 degrees within 10 minutes after it has been turned off. On a hot sunny day with outside temperatures averaging 29 degree Celsius / 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Your pets body temperature will rise considerably in a very short amount of time. Their body temp should average between 100-102 on a good day but as the car temperature increases so will the animals. The higher it goes, the more severe your pet’s condition will become. They will pant excessively, drool (long stringy saliva), have dry or tacky gums, reddened or even pale blue/gray in colour, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, mental dullness, uncoordinated movements, potentially have a seizure and possibly even collapse.
If any of those things happen, see your veterinarian or take your pet to an emergency hospital immediately!
If signs of your pet having heat stroke are minor, you can do the following. First, move the animal out of the heated area into the shade or if possible into the house. Get a towel and run room temperature/cool water over it. Put the wet towel on the animal’s body and neck area. Never use COLD water as this can cause the capillaries (tiny veins) in the skin to close off, and this will not help your pet. Do not offer drinking water right away because this could cause them to vomit or exasperate into their lungs causing further issue. If you have access to a rectal thermometer, it would be great to take his/her temperature and see what the core body temp is. If it is high, keep adding wet towels or water to try and slowly bring down his/her temp. Continually check the body temperature for improvement. Heat stroke can last up to 48-72 hours before symptoms are completely gone and your pet appears normal.
All dogs are at risk of heat stroke, but long hair, obese, senior and flat nose dogs (example: pugs) are at much higher risk.
Another cause of heat stroke is walking in hot temperatures. Always try to take shorter walks and more preferably in the early morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is not at its highest peak.
If housed outside while you are away, please try to have the option of laying down in a cool, shaded area.
Written by: Sherry Noseworthy, CCR