Don’t Let Your Dog Cook!

Temperatures have soared the past few weeks, with sweltering heat that can be dangerous for pets, and leaving your pet in a vehicle can quickly have hazardous consequences. Children and pets should never be left alone in parked cars because sunlight can spike car interiors to lethal temperatures in just a few minutes, even if the weather is relatively mild. Catherine McLaren, at Stanford University, conducted research on car heating, and concluded that regardless of outside air temps, the car heated up at a similar rate—gaining 80% of its final temperature within 30 minutes, and cars that started out at comfortable 71 degrees spiked to over 115 degrees …and cracking the windows open made very little difference. In one study begun at 7:45 a.m., a car was left on the shaded side of a building with two windows open. The outside temperature was 75 degrees, and at 9;30 the temp inside the car was 130 degrees while the outside temperature was not yet 90 degrees. Other studies have shown that the temperature inside a car can reach 200 degrees if parked in direct sunlight.

A dog left in a hot car will struggle to get out, and the more he struggles, the faster his temperature will rise, and it doesn’t take long for him to begin suffering irreparable brain damage or death. Every year many dogs die agonizing deaths in parked cars… Don’t let this happen to your dog. Be kind, and leave him home!

If you see a dog that needs immediate help, remember it is illegal to break the window; it is property damage and anyone can be held liable for damages, but it is important to act quickly. Write down the car’s make, model, and license-plate number, and if there are businesses nearby, notify the manager or security guard, asking them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. If you feel the dog is in immediate danger, or no owner responds within a few minutes, call the local police or animal control, and wait for them to arrive.

I have already seen several dogs at risk this summer, and I would guess you have too, so it is important to be prepared to call for help: have the phone numbers of both your animal control agency and the police department, and keep these numbers in your purse or programmed into your phone. Every minute counts!

Get involved by asking local store managers, restaurants, and other businesses to post signs asking customers to not leave their pets in their cars while shopping or dining , and if your town doesn’t have a law prohibiting leaving pets in parked cars, contact your local council or area representatives. It is never cool to cook your dog!


In the good old summertime

Summer is a time for both you and your dog to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors, but along with the fun, there are some dangers for your animal. To keep your companion animals safe this summer:

  • NEVER leave him in a parked car. The temperature in a car can reach 120 degrees in just minutes even on a moderately warm day. If you see an animal in a parked car, alert the management of the store, and if the owner does not respond promptly, call the police. Take a look at this public awareness video by Dr. Ernie Ward:
  • Summer is often when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your dog ingests them. In addition, more than 700 plants can cause harmful effects in animals…complete lists of toxic plants can be found at
  • Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes which are abundant this year, so be sure that your dog is taking heartworm prevention medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Dogs can’t perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet, so it is important to provide plenty of water and shade while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so that they can stay cool.
  • Dogs need exercise even when it is hot, but extra care needs to be taken to limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that cement and asphalt get very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.
  • Fleas and ticks are another summertime threat! Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.
  • Pets can get sunburned too, and your dog may require sunscreen on her nose and ear tips. Those with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn (and skin cancer). Don’t shave the coat of a long-haired dog too closely for his “summer coat.” Hair helps insulate and control body temperature, and exposed skin is more susceptible to sunburn.
  • Avoid taking your dog to crowded summer events such as rock concerts or fairs. The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets. For their well-being, leave them home!

Charles Newing remembers the good old summer time with nostalgia, recalling a time when he and his big old dog just sat on the front porch, enjoying each other’s company:

Are rocking chairs in this country, I’m asking myself, being rocked on summer evenings as much as they once were? Or do they stand abandoned and motionless on deserted porches across the land? Do humans still find a place under the shade trees to take naps with their beloved four-legged companions, now that the air conditioned homes offer relief from the pesky flies and blistering heat? How often do they engage in a game of fetch- the- stick, or bring- me –the- ball now that they have their laptops and i-pods and cell phones?

Emily Dickinson, in a letter from 1856, noticed the awesomeness of summer, writing, “If God had been here this summer, and had seen the things that I have seen—I guess that He would think His Paradise superfluous.” I can’t brag in this same fashion about our summer this year, because of all the rain, (and the humungous size of the mosquitoes) but we have been so busy that we haven’t really taken time to enjoy much of anything.

I seldom take time to walk around the block with my dog, much less rock on the front porch….and now that I think about it, I don’t have a front porch any more.  But even without a front porch, (and no rocking chair), the world won’t stop spinning if I ignore all my “to-do” lists and obligations (and turn off my cell phone) for a little while. The good old summer time will be gone too quickly, so come on, fella, let’s go out under the shady elm tree and take a good long nap…then maybe we can have a game of fetch.

Heatstoke Can Be A Deadly Killer

Hot weather has arrived, and as the temperature rises, so does the danger of heatstroke. People have efficient ways to keep cool during the summer months, with air conditioners and fans, and we sweat, but dogs don’t have air conditioners that they can turn on and off, and they don’t even have the ability to sweat. They rely primarily on panting to regulate their body heat, and sometimes their natural temperature-lowering mechanisms don’t work well, especially if they have been exercising too much or been confined in a hot, stuffy environment. The result is heat exhaustion which can pose serious health problems, and if the condition progresses to heatstroke, the consequences can be fatal. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102. Degrees Fahrenheit.

If it rises to 105, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion, and if the body temp rises to 107 degrees, he has entered the dangerous zone of heat stroke, and it can happen quickly even if it doesn’t seem to be that hot out. Dogs can be fine one minute, running and playing, and then suddenly begin panting and progressing toward heatstroke.  Dogs who have a thick coat, heart and lung problems, or a short muzzle are at greater risk, as are puppies, overweight dogs, ill dogs, and dogs with short, wide heads, like pugs, bulldogs, and Boston Terriers.   If your dog is overheating, he may appear sluggish and unresponsive, or possibly disoriented. Excessive panting, hyperventilation, rapid or erratic pulse, weakness, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea, indicate he is in trouble, and if he continues to overheat, breathing efforts become slowed or absent, and finally seizures or coma can occur. Call your veterinarian immediately, and move the dog to a cool environment, preferably into air conditioning.  Begin cooling procedures by soaking her body with wet, cool towels. Do not use ice or ice-cold water because it can constrict blood vessels and actually worsen the condition.  Get her to a veterinary clinic right away, even if she seems to be recovering.

  • Dog caregivers can significantly reduce the threat of canine heatstroke by taking appropriate precautions.
  • Be conscientious about keeping your dog cool, hydrated, and well ventilated, and avoiding too much exercise on hot, muggy days.
  • NEVER leave your dog outside without plenty of shade and plenty of fresh water, and if you are uncomfortable in the heat, your dog is likely very uncomfortable. Do not leave him tied up outside!  *Avoid walking him during the hottest time of the day when the pavement is hot and the sun’s rays are intense.
  • NEVER leave your dog alone in a car, regardless of the temperature, for any reason at any time, as the temperature inside a car can reach a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Leaving dogs in a car during warm weather is the most common cause of heat stroke. For more information, check out this video by veteranian Dr. Erin Ward who spent just 30 minutes inside a hot car to see what it felt like to be a dog:|ivl|hh|leavepetincar|
  • If you see an animal left in someone else’s parked car, notify a store employee and call law enforcement right away.

Be aware that, as temperatures soar, so do the chances that your dog can become severely overheated, and remember that the best treatment for heatstroke is prevention!

The Dangers of Letting Dogs Ride in Pickups

I see dogs riding in the bed of moving pickup trucks on a regular basis, and I am always uneasy. Sure, the dog looks like he is having fun… ears flopping and noses testing the wind, with the freedom to look around , seemingly enjoying the trip. This common practice is NOT safe.

When you transport your dog in the open bed of a pickup, you endanger your dog and other motorists. If you have to suddenly step on the brakes , or swerve to avoid an obstacle, your dog can easily be thrown out onto the road. Tethering the dog with a restraint is not the answer. Documented cases tell of dogs restrained by leashes or harnesses that have been strangled or dragged after being thrown from a truck bed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a survey of veterinarians in Massachusetts and learned that 71% of those surveyed, reported treating almost 600 dogs the previous year as a result of riding in a truck bed. The AVMA concluded that all 592 dogs could have avoided their injuries had their caregivers had not placed them in the bed of pickups.

Some of the hazards a pet may experience while riding in the open bed of a pickup are:

  • slipping around and hitting the sides or slamming into the cab of the truck
  • falling or jumping out of the bed
  • flying debris can hit the animal

Please secure your furbaby whenever you travel.