“It just slips peoples’ minds,” veterinarian Robin Roberts of Animal General said. “They think they are just running in for a minute, but with no air movement and no way to cool themselves, it only takes a short amount of time for the animal to become distressed. Even in the shade, those cars become extremely hot in a very short time.”
Roberts said that the effects of the extreme heat aren’t always obvious immediately and can sometime show up as late as two or three weeks later. “Pets just shouldn’t be left in the car, even if you think you are just going to be inside for a minute, time passes much faster than you think,” Robert said.
He also recommends that outside dogs have shade and cool drinking water so they can stay cool during the extremely hot summer days.
Roberts said that he usually sees five or six cases of heat-related illness in dogs each summer, but stresses that there is no way to really know how many animals are impacted locally each year.
“There are five vets around here, so if we each see five or six a year, and we already know that approximately 20 percent of animals in need of vet care actually get it, we are looking at a pretty large number,” Roberts said. “And, of course, we don’t see the ones who are already deceased.”
Signs of heat-related issues in dogs are much the same as in people:
•Unusual breathing - rapid and loud
•High rectal temperature
•Weakness and/or fatigue
•A bright red tongue and pale gums
•Skin around muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
•Collapse or coma
•Increased heart rate.
Roberts said anyone with an animal showing these signs should cool the animal off and seek veterinary treatment immediately.