What happens to dogs when left in hot cars?

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OK, let’s examine a hypothetical situation. It’s a hot day and you decide to go on road trip and take your dog along. At some point you park up and decide to leave your dog in the car.

The window’s open a little. That’s enough right?

Within 30 minutes, the inside of your car will be as hot as an oven

This seems like an extreme over-statement of the situation but it’s true. If it’s 26 degrees centigrade outside, within 30 minutes it will be 45 degrees inside your car. Consider just how much hotter this is than what you are experiencing outside.

You can cope by sweating – your dog can’t

Humans cool down naturally by sweating. As sweat drips from our pores, any breeze helps cool down our body and this allows us to tolerate hot conditions for longer than we otherwise would.

But dogs can’t sweat. According to Pet Health Network:

While sweat glands are designed to aid with cooling in humans, heat release does not occur in dogs this same way. Dogs lack the normal, predominant sweat glands that humans and other species have.

Basically, dogs only sweat from areas not covered with fur – which isn’t much. In turn this means their ability to self-cool and withstand the heat is severely limited. Your dog can withstand a lot less heat than you. Remember that!

Panting helps, but is limited

As the ambient temperature increases, dogs pant harder to cool down (circulating cooler air around their body).

However, if the ambient humidity is also increased, the effect panting has is lessened, so it’s not an ideal way to cool down. As with humans who sweat to cool down, there’s a limit to how much we can do this (we can lose to much fluid).

Normal temperature for a dog is 37 degrees centigrade

On a hot day, they will already begin to exceed this temperature and will rapidly descend into heat stroke only a few degrees hotter. Your dog is now in the danger zone and risking real damage to their body:

  • Circulatory System – damage to cells, causing your dogs body to be less able bleed or clot.
  • Kidneys – thermal damage can lead to renal failure.
  • Liver – micro-clotting and direct thermal damage.
  • Gastrointestinal Track – damage to intestinal lining can result in an increase in infections.
  • Central Nervous System – dogs with heat stroke can present symptoms of depression, muscle tremors, twitches or even strokes.

Don’t leave your dog in a hot car! Period.

There’s no excuse to do so. There’s never a good time and it can cause real damage to your dog. Be a responsible dog owner!

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