With Summer approaching the weather is getting nicer and the temperatures are rising. Sunny weather creates a new potential danger to our furry friends: the heat. Dogs do not dissipate heat as well as humans do. Some breeds of dog handle the heat better than others. Double-coated and short-muzzled dogs are particularly poorly suited for warmer weather. Keeping your dog relatively cool is important for both their comfort and safety.
Dogs do not sweat. Instead, dogs cool off by panting or allowing heat to dissipate through the blood vessels on their ears and paws. But just because your dog isn’t sweating doesn’t mean they aren’t losing water. Try breathing heavily through your open mouth for an extended period of time and see how dry your mouth feels! Keeping a source of clean, cool water available for your dog is doubly important in the Summer months.
One of the most dangerous places for your dog is a parked car. A car left in the sun can easily break 100 degrees, and is consistently going to be around 20 degrees warmer than the outside. In addition, lowering the window does not help. The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that “In terms of heat-rise over time, it makes very little difference whether a car’s windows are closed or partially open. In both cases, a car’s interior temperature can rise approximately 40 degrees within one hour, even when the exterior temperature is only 72°F.”
Some states in the US either have “hot car laws” on the books. Other states have “good Samaritan laws” protecting someone who breaks into a car to save a dog’s life (under certain circumstances, with conditions, which vary by state). The state of Washington doesn’t offer these protections to the average citizen. Washington does have laws allowing law enforcement officers or animal control workers to break into cars in order to save neglected pets, though.
King County Animal Services asks that you call 9-1-1 if you see a trapped dog. If you do see a dog stuck in a hot car, remember time is of the essence. Do not hesitate to call it in. A life could well hang in the balance.