Leave your pets at home during hot days

Each summer our agencies receive hundreds of emergency calls to rescue dogs whose lives are endangered because they are left in hot cars, says Sean Hogan, BCSPCA Kelowna Branch manager. Many well-meaning guardians leave their pets in parked vehicles while they run errands, thinking they will be safe for a short period. Tragically, in hot weather their pets can suffer serious heatstroke and die in a matter of minutes.

We make it a priority to respond as quickly as possible, but we would rather see the problem addressed through education and prevention before an animal is put in a potentially fatal situation, says Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. Each time an officer is dispatched to rescue an animal in a parked car, it stretches resources required for other emergency calls.

Dog in parked car with window rolled up

The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet. In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.

On summer days the hot air and upholstery in a vehicle can make it impossible for pets to cool themselves. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – usually just 15 to 20 minutes - before suffering irreparable internal organ and brain damage or death.

If you’re used to letting your pets accompany you on errands, you might feel guilty leaving them behind on hot summer days. But they will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh, cool water, Hogan says. If you must travel with your pets, keep them cool.

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

 

Symptoms of heatstroke in pets:

If your pet shows symptoms of heatstroke

Related Links

Visit the BC SPCA for more information on what you can do to help keep dogs safe when the weather warms up. (PDF)
Date modified: