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Dogs, Cars and Hot Weather: A Dangerous Combination

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author photo by Autotrader July 2010

"It's not cool to leave a dog in a hot car, even for a minute," say the experts at MyDogIsCool.com.

This seems like a no-brainer, but with record-breaking heat this summer, that "I'll be right back" promise to a pet can quickly turn into a death sentence, according to Dan Johnston, spokesperson for pet-friendly car company, Volvo. "A pet is a responsibility for life, dependent on our actions. Never leave a pet in an unattended car," he says.

Christina Selter, founder of Bark Buckle UP, a website that promotes awareness for pet safety while traveling, notes that over the last few weeks, people have been posting links on her Facebook page (facebook.com/BarkBuckleUP) with safety messages about pets in hot cars. And pets don't necessarily mean just dogs. There's even one message about a bird.

Nicole Forsyth – president and CEO of United Animal Nations, a non-profit animal protection organization – outlines five compelling reasons why leaving a dog in a hot car can be deadly:

  1. Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness, because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.

  2. Even on seemingly mild days, an enclosed car can be deadly. In a Stanford University study, when it was 72 degrees outside, a car's internal temperature climbed to 116 degrees within one hour.

  3. Enclosed cars heat up quickly. In a study by San Francisco State University, when it was 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car rose to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.

  4. A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; dogs can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

  5. Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a vehicle's internal temperature.

Selter (also known as the "Pet Safety Lady") says that hydration for pets on the go is extremely important, even on a short drive. Be sure to take along fresh water and a travel bowl.

If you come across a dog in a hot car showing signs of distress – heavy panting, gasping for air, weakness or unconsciousness – alert the manager of the nearest store, requesting an announcement on their PA system.

If this isn't possible, contact the police. You could save a life.

To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, visit MyDogIsCool.com.

Photo courtesy of Bark Buckle UP.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Dogs, Cars and Hot Weather: A Dangerous Combination - Autotrader