Summer is a great time to be outdoors with our pets. It is important to remember that your dog has adequate shade/shelter, and water available in a bowl that cannot be easily tipped over.
It is also important to ensure you do not leave your dog unattended in a car, as your dog can suffer heat stress and die in as little as six minutes.
How fast does the temperature rise in a car?
After just 5 minutes, when the outside temperature is 32.5 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside your car can reach over 50 degrees Celsius. It can climb to 75 degrees Celsius in less than two hours.
The colour of your car, tint on the windows or even leaving the windows open or parking in the shade does not significantly reduce the car temperature.
Dogs with short faces (such as pugs and bulldogs) can suffer in the heat because they find it difficult to breathe. Obese and aged dogs are also at greater risk, as are those with heart disease and thick coats.
Ute trays can burn
Dogs travelling on the back of utes can burn their footpads or bodies on the tray as these can get very hot in the sun. If you own a ute you should cover the trays with a suitable material and provide a shaded area.
What are the signs a pet is suffering from heat stress?
Dogs don’t sweat, (except to a minor degree through their foot pads) so they can’t tolerate high environmental temperatures. Dogs use panting as a way to exchange warm air for cool air. But when the air temperature is close to the dog’s body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process. This is when heat stroke can occur.
Dogs suffering from heat stress may pant, droll and become restless. Over time they become weak and the colour of their gums may change, they may stagger and experience vomiting, diarrhoea or seizures.
For more information on heat stress and how to treat it visit justsixminutes.com.au and download their fact sheet.
How to treat a pet with heat stress:
Heat stroke is an emergency and your dog needs to be treated by a vet. Emergency treatment to reduce the animal's body temperature down at a steady rate is needed. Spray cool water onto your dog's body and use a fan. Don't use ice-cold water as this may cool down the animal too quickly.
Penalties for causing animals to suffer
The RSPCA states that causing animals to suffer in any way is a criminal offence. If your dog suffers as a result of being left in a car, you can be fined $5,500 and spend 6 months in jail. If your dog dies as a result of being left in a car, you can be fined up to $22,500 and sentenced to two years in jail.
If you see a dog suffering in a hot car, contact the RSPCA NSW immediately on 1300 278 3589 (1300 CRUELTY).