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Hot Summer Temperatures Put Pets in Peril

PHOTO: Taking Fido for a ride in the car is one of the joys of summer, but veterinarians caution against ever leaving a pet in the car unattended, even with the windows cracked. Photo credit: pippalou/morguefile.com
PHOTO: Taking Fido for a ride in the car is one of the joys of summer, but veterinarians caution against ever leaving a pet in the car unattended, even with the windows cracked. Photo credit: pippalou/morguefile.com
June 20, 2014

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Dogs left in cars in parking lots are an all-too-common summertime sight, and animal experts say it is both extremely dangerous for animals and could land their owners in hot water.

Katie Timber, director of the SPCA of Southwest Michigan, said animals can suffer heatstroke within minutes because temperatures can soar inside a car, even with its windows cracked.

"When it's 75 degrees outside, it can be 118 degrees in your car," she said. "Dogs don't tolerate high environmental temperatures well because they don't sweat. So, when we see a dog in a hot car and they're panting, panting, panting - this is a sign of them being in distress."

Other signs of heatstroke in animals can include lethargy, excessive salivation and seizures. Timber said it's critical to get an overheated animal to the veterinarian immediately because the situation quickly can turn fatal.

Timber said laws vary from one municipality to another, and in some parts of the state it is illegal to leave a pet in the car for any length of time. Whether on the road or at home, she said, the key is to keep animals hydrated and cool in the summer months.

"Keep one of those attachable water bowls on you, a bottle of water," she said. "If they're on walk, look for shade, and just be mindful of the fact that they can be susceptible to heatstroke. "

In addition to not leaving pets in cars, Timber said owners need to make sure they are not left in a cage in the hot sun, on a chain in the yard, or anywhere outdoors without sufficient shade or air circulation and water.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI