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Your dog may be dying from the heat

Wednesday, 12 January, 2011

Summer means jandal weather, holiday weather, barbeque weather, beach weather and park weather. Unfortunately, summer also means hot dog weather for the SPCA.

Every year, too many dogs suffer needlessly in hot cars while their owners stop in at the shops. On a hot day the inside of a car heats up very quickly, a potentially life-threatening situation for any dog inside. Even with the windows slightly open, a car parked in the shade on a 30°C day will heat up to 39°C in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, the temperature will hit 49°C, and on hotter days it will go even higher.

Locked in a hot car, a dog can only withstand temperatures of over 40°C for a very short amount of time before suffering irreparable brain damage – or even death. A dog cannot sweat like humans can, and is only able to cool itself down by panting. Dogs also need access to plenty of water and cool, fresh air in order to fully moderate their body temperature.

Already this summer, a number of dogs have died or suffered severe and debilitating heat stress through being left in hot cars. The SPCA is hopeful that by highlighting the danger of hot cars, this number does not continue to increase over the remaining summer months.

"Our summer temperatures can be merciless, and overheating causes appalling suffering and can lead to an equally appalling death," says SPCA New Zealand National Chief Inspector, Charles Cadwallader.

"There are many reasons why you might take your dog in the car with you – you may think that you’re doing him a favour, giving him company. But the moment you step out of that car, leaving your pet at the mercy of the elements, you risk losing more than just your best mate.

"In such cases the SPCA will prosecute where appropriate and this may lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or to a fine not exceeding $75,000, or to both.

"Our message is clear – leave him at home, or take him with you when you get out, but don’t leave him shut in the car, even on a cloudy day and with the windows open."

If you see a dog in distress locked in a hot car, please call your local SPCA immediately, or dial 111. First aid for a dog suffering from heat exhaustion is to immerse it in cold water until its body temperature is lowered.