Summer is a great time for visiting the beach, going for long walks, and enjoying outdoor sports with the family. But there’s one family member you need to be extra mindful of: your family dog. From hot sidewalks to hot cars, dogs are much more sensitive to the warmer temperatures than we are. You might think that it’s harmless to leave your dog waiting in a hot car for a few minutes while you run an errand, but that could actually be dangerous. A hot car can be a deathtrap for your beloved pet, as it was for this police dog who suffered the consequences of his handler’s carelessness.
How to Test a Hot Sidewalk
So, how do you know if it’s too hot to walk your dog on the sidewalk? Place the back of your hand on the pavement and hold it for 5 seconds. If it feels too warm for your skin, it’s too hot for your dog, too. Instead, you can either walk your furry friend on the grass or wait until the evening when temperatures are cooler. You can also try a paw protective wax to protect their sensitive skin (this works for the winter, too!)
Police Dog Dies From Overheating
Mojo, a police dog, has gained attention recently in Dekalb County, Indiana, as he was found dead in his handler’s squad car. The handler, Courtney Fuller, was a school resource officer who served with Mojo in a high school in Butler, Indiana. When Fuller returned home, he allegedly forgot to let Mojo out of the car because he got distracted with an issue concerning his newborn baby.
The next morning, Fuller found Mojo dead in the back of his car and contacted his supervisor. A necropsy determined that Mojo died of a heat stroke and Fuller is currently suspended as the investigation continues. “The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department regrets this tragic mistake and mourns the loss of one of its members,” said Sheriff Don Lauer. (4) This ‘tragic mistake’ and many others would be completely preventable if people were more careful with their pets.
Why You Should Never Leave Your Dog In A Hot Car
Sweat is your body’s natural defense against high temperatures. When you find yourself in a hot place or when your physical activity raises your body temperature, you start to sweat, which cools off your body.
Dogs are a little different when it comes to fighting heat. Their body is covered in fur, so the only way they can sweat is through their paw pads and tongue, which is why they pant. Being trapped in a hot environment can make it impossible for them to cool off themselves. On a 78-degree day, the interior temperature of a car can rise to 100 degrees, and on a 90-degree day, the number can go up to 160 degrees in 10 minutes and cause heat stroke in just 15 minutes. (1)
Heat stroke can affect all parts of the body, including the digestive, circulatory, and central nervous system of a dog. Their liver and kidneys can fail and they may vomit blood or have blood in their stool. Their blood clots, their heart beats rapidly and irregularly and may stop beating. Their mental health can suffer, they may experience seizures and become unconscious. (2) Suffering from heat stroke is as horrible as it sounds and it’s a terrible way to die.
This video shows how terrible it actually is to leave a dog in a hot car, how to prevent heat stroke, and what to do if you see a dog waiting in someone else’s car.
How to prevent heat stroke:
Get your dog to a vet
Wrap them in cool towels
Blast the A/C
Never submerge them in cold water
How to rescue a dog trapped in a hot car:
Take license plate, model, and make of the car
Have businesses locate the pet owner
If that doesn’t work, call non-emergency police or animal control and wait for them by the car
Protecting Animals From Irresponsible Owners
Bill 409 In Nevada
Dogs keep dying because of careless people, but small legal victories can have a huge impact. Currently, only 23 states have laws that protect animals left in locked cars, including Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Nevada might soon become the 24th state to enforce a similar law. Bill 409 just passed the senate and if it passes the house and be signed into law, it will criminalize the act of leaving a dog or cat locked in a car in hot weather. If someone is convicted of this crime, they can get up to 6 months of jail time or be fined up to 1,000 dollars. The law will also protect those who have to damage a vehicle to save an animal from danger. (3)
New Guidelines For Roanoke, Virginia
Another U.S. city, Roanoke, Virginia, recently introduced guidelines that prohibit people from tying their dog outside for more than 3 hours and from 10 pm to 6 pm. Dog owners are not allowed to chain their dog outside if they are injured, in heat, or if they are younger than 4 months old. The city hopes that these guidelines will force people to bring their dogs inside their homes and allow them to become part of their family. (6)
These guidelines are very important for the protection and well-being of dogs and people. Chaining dogs outside can isolate them, which can have a detrimental effect on their mental health and social behavior. Allowing dogs to interact with people, and especially with small children, can lower their aggression and teach them how to properly behave around people. (5)
If you wouldn’t chain a child outside or leave them waiting in a hot car, then you shouldn’t do the same to a dog. Fortunately, there are good people in this world who fight for the protection of animals under the law, but there’s always more that you can learn and do to keep your pets healthy, happy, and safe.
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(1) Dogs in Hot Cars and on Hot Pavement. (n.d.). In PETA.
(2) Heat Stroke and Hyperthermia in Dogs. (n.d.) In PETMD.
(3) Philip, B. (2017, June 26). New Law Being Passed Makes It A Felony To Leave A Pet In A Hot Car. Do You Support This?
(4) Police mum after K9 dies of heat stroke in squad car. (2017, July 7). In WANE.
(5) Raghavan, M. (2008). Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990–2007. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 49(6), 577–581.
(6) Tyree, E. (2017, July 6). New ordinance keeps dogs from being tied up for a long time.