July 22, 2013

By Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian, Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, and Certified Veterinary Journalist, http://www.patrickmahaney.com

Summertime is full of seemingly care-free fun for people, yet warmer temperatures that occur on a seasonal or non-seasonal basis can adversely affect the health of our pets.

Considering many owners bring their companion canines outside of the safe confines of their air conditioned homes and along for car rides, dogs are exposed to a variety of environmental stressors. One of the deadliest of these hazards is the elevated temperature faced inside our automobiles.

dogs in hot carsUnlike humans, dogs can’t sweat in a capacity permitting the body to cool to a safe level when outside or indoor temperatures rise above room temperature (68-77 F). The respiratory tract is a dog’s primary means to evacuated heat, which is why you’ll commonly witness Fido panting in warmer climates and after exercise.

Never leave your dog in a non-climate controlled car, even on what feels to you to be a relatively cool day. A Stanford University Medical Center study (published in Pediatrics magazine) determined that the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by an average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit in within 60 minutes (over half of a degree per minute), regardless of the outside temperature.

The hotter it is inside your car, the more likely your dog will also experience a comparable increase in body temperature. Elevations above the normal range for high body temperatures (AKA hyperthermia, typically > 103) over a period of minutes to hours can cause heat related illness, including diarrhea, vomit, blood clotting deficiencies, multi-system organ failure, coma, and death.

Even if you plan to only be away from the car for a few minutes, unforeseeable circumstances may keep you occupied for longer. As a result, your pooch could cook inside his “glass coffin” (as cars are commonly referred to in the veterinary community) and possibly die.

If your dog accompanies you for car travel, only bring him along when going to pooch friendly destinations that permit dogs to enter and remain in a comfortable, plentifully shaded, and low-stress environment.

This article is a guest post written by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian, Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, and Certified Veterinary Journalist. Please feel free to communicate with him through Facebook. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and The Honest Kitchen.