Summer Safety: How to Prevent a Dog From Overheating in a Car
One of the greatest dangers our pets face during the hot summer months is being left unattended in a hot car. When it is 80 degrees outside, the temperature in your car can reach 99 degrees in just 10 minutes; at 90 degrees outside, the temperature in your car can reach 109 degrees in 10 minutes. You may think you’ll just pop into the store and leave your dog for a few minutes, but the heat in your car can reach sweltering levels more quickly than you think. Furthermore, cracking the windows has been shown to have little cooling effect.
Dogs can only cool themselves down by panting, and they are naturally wearing a heavy fur coat, temperatures that are merely uncomfortable for humans can quickly become dangerous for dogs. Dogs can experience brain damage or even die from heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. The best way to protect our furry friends from the dangers of overheating in cars is, of course, to never leave your pet unattended in in a car, even if you think it’s not that hot outside, or that you’ll be back in just a moment. Remember, your perception of the heat is not an accurate gauge for how it will affect your dog.
So what should you do if you come across a dog locked in a hot car? First, take down the color, make, model, and license plate of the car and have the owner paged at the nearest business. Second, don’t leave until things are resolved and the dog is safe. If the owner is not found, call the authorities and give them your location along with the vehicle’s details.
As a last resort, it is legal in California under section 597.7 of the state Penal Code to break into a car if there is an animal in extreme distress within. If this is the situation you find yourself in, call the authorities before you do anything--they may even be able to talk you through gaining access to the animal in the safest way possible. In this scenario, make sure you stay on the scene with the animal until the police arrive as they will need to take a statement from you, and the animal will possibly need veterinary care.
The best way to keep our pets safe and happy is to be aware of the risks and do our best to avoid putting our pets in questionable or dangerous circumstances.