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Leave pets at home, not in the car

By Kristin Larson
For Sun-Times

News reports continue this summer telling the tragic tales about children dying when left behind in hot, parked cars. But the same risk of organ failure, vascular collapse and death exists for dogs — even within minutes.

The solution: don’t take the risk. Leave your pets at home.

“If you love your pet, why would you even risk this potential harm?” says Bruce Silverman, veterinarian at Village West Veterinary in Ukranian Village. “High temperatures resulting in heat stroke aren’t simply remedied by some cool water splashed on your dog’s face. Body temperatures can rise to very high levels from being trapped in a car.”

Even if it doesn’t feel hot outside, imagine how it would feel wearing a full-body fur coat.

According to the ASPCA, on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 160 degrees, with the windows cracked. That’s the equivalent of a hot oven.
Humidity poses added danger to pets.

“The higher the moisture level in the air, the worse the ability for evaporative cooling, from panting, for your dog,” he says. “So a lower air temperature may still be stifling for an active, furry dog locked in the car.”

High-energy dogs have higher body temperatures, he notes, add to this high air temperature and high humidity. “A panicky dog will overheat very quickly,” Silverman says. “Maybe even within 10 to 15 minutes.”

Another risk to leaving pets in the car is being towed. Silverman has heard of cases where cars are parked illegally and they are towed — with pets locked in the car for hours.

“A brief visit to a store or other destination while your pet is locked in the car may result in unexpected delays in getting back to your car that are beyond your control,” he says.

If you see a pet locked in car, say something. Call 911, and don’t leave until help has arrived. For more tips on preventing and recognizing symptoms of heat stroke in pets, read this story by PetMD.