It seems like common sense, but every year emergency crews break into blistering hot vehicles that owners have left dogs in unattended. “The worst possible situation is for kids or dogs to be left alone in an enclosed car,” says Dr. Klein. “Even with the windows open, a car quickly becomes like an oven.”
The temperature of car seats alone can hit 123 degrees F in just an hour, according to a study published in May 2018 journal Temperature.
In most cases, animals will succumb to heatstroke much faster than humans, and irreversible damage can happen within minutes.
If you see a pet alone in a parked car, the Humane Society of the United States says to take down the car’s license plate and model, notify a business or security guard nearby, or call your local nonemergency police line.
Dogs lower their body temperature through a process called thermoregulation. They achieve this by panting, which expels hot air from the body and causes moisture in the mouth to evaporate and cool.
Cats simulate the human sweating process, which cools humans through evaporation, by grooming themselves regularly. Saliva from their tongues acts like sweat that cools their body when it evaporates. In extreme weather, cats will also pant to try and cool themselves.
The best advice is to leave your dog, cat or other animals in a cool house with air conditioning. Most animals do not have sweat glands and too much exposure to extreme heat will kill them.
A basic rule of survival for every living animal: Stay hydrated.
Indoors or outdoors your pet should always have access to a bowl of clean, fresh water. Even if you’re just out for a short dog walk, bring a dog water bottle or a portable dog bowl to fill up in case your pup gets thirsty. And a bowl that has been basking in the sun not be tempting to drink.
If you have a dog with a thick coat, like a Husky, your first thought may be to shave your dog for the summer. Stop!
A dog’s coat isn’t just for keeping them warm in winter, their fur also helps protect their skin from sun damage and slows down heat absorption. Dogs will shed their winter undercoats as needed, and leavie their topcoat to act as a shield against the sun’s harmful rays and protect them from bug bites and stings.
While some dogs may require a trim always check with your veterinarian first. For hairless dogs or ones who have light skin pigments, there are sunscreens formulated specifically for dogs and other pets.