Even though the weather doesn’t feel like it in many places, summer is upon us! So it’s time to remind folks about the volatile combination of cars and pets.
Every year, hundreds of pets, mostly dogs, die of hyperthermia from being left in the car in dangerously hot conditions. What most people don’t realize that those conditions can occur in mild 60-70 degree F weather — even if it’s cloudy, and even if you leave the windows cracked open. An interior temperature of 100 degrees F is enough to inhibit a dog’s cooling mechanisms; anything over that rapidly becomes a recipe for disaster. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees F, even parking in the shade can seriously harm your dog. Suffice it to say that if you’re running errands on a hot day, leave your dog at home!
The other pet vs. car issue is allowing pets to ride unrestrained. I’ll never forget the client who pulled up to our clinic, flung the car door open, and a nanosecond later received two sets of deep scratches across her legs as her cat launched herself out and bolted into the nearest backyard. It took two weeks to lure the cat into a live trap and return her home. She’s very lucky that one of the neighborhood foxes, coyotes, or owls did not get to the cat first! Cats should always be transported in a secure carrier.
Dogs should also be restrained, even those who are well-behaved in the car. If you have to stop or swerve suddenly, or heaven forbid, someone hits you; and your dog can easily be thrown out, or into the dashboard–or into your head, which obviously won’t end well for either of you! A harness that clips to the car’s seatbelts is the safest way for your dog to ride; however, tests have shown that these are not always reliable, so make sure the manufacturer can prove that it works.
It should go without saying, but I still see it every day: dogs riding loose in the back of a pick-up truck. Some states now have laws against this incredibly dangerous situation. There are plenty of dead dogs in highway medians or along shoulders that had jumped out or were somehow ejected. Use cross-ties at a minimum; but a shaded kennel or a closed camper or shell are more appropriate choices.
See this article for more information: Dogs Left In Cars – Risk of Heat Stroke on Warm Days