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No hot dogs in hot cars this summer

Media release
13 February 2013

No hot dogs in hot cars this summer

Auckland Council’s animal management team and the SPCA are calling on owners to take extra care when travelling in cars with their pets, amidst forecasts of continued hot weather.

It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Most people don't realise how hot it can get in a parked car on a balmy day let alone a sweltering hot summer’s day. On a 20 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 32 degrees, and hit a scorching 70-90 degrees if parked in the sun.

With more hot days on the way, owners need to be mindful of the added dangers, says Auckland Council’s Licensing and Compliance Manager Graham Bodman.

“The risks for animals in hot vehicles, most commonly dogs, should not be under-estimated. Our furry friends don’t sweat like humans, instead cooling through panting, and sweating through their paws,” he says.

Animals in hot cars that have only overheated air to breathe can collapse, suffer brain damage and possibly die of heatstroke. Just 15 minutes can be enough for an animal's body temperature to climb to dangerous levels that will damage its nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatosed, dehydrated and at risk of permanent impairment or death.

Each year the SPCA Auckland deals with dozens of cases of animals left unattended in hot cars, which is why “No Hot Dogs in Hot Cars” is a recurring summer message, says Auckland SPCA Chief Executive Officer Christine Kalin.

“The SPCA doesn’t tolerate cruelty or neglect of any kind, and leaving animals in a hot car is both cruel and neglectful. We need owners to take appropriate care,” she says.

Signs of heat exhaustion include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness, or lack of coordination.

To lower body temperature gradually, give the animal water to drink, place a cold towel or ice pack on the head, neck and chest, and/or immerse the dog in cool (not cold) water. Calling a veterinarian may also be necessary.

Ends

Editors notes:

Best precautions are:
* Leave your dog at home on hot days.
* On trips with your pet, bring plenty of fresh drinking water and a bowl.
* Make regular stops and let the animal have a walk in the shade.
* It is not enough to roll down a window partly or park in the shade, as the car temperature could still climb into the danger zone.

* If you see a pet in a vehicle on a hot day displaying the signs of heat exhaustion above, take immediate action.

* Noting the car make, model, colour and dog tag number (if you can), try to locate the owner in nearby shops. If you cannot locate the owner, then contact SPCA Auckland or the police. The police have the capability to enter the vehicle and rescue the pet if in distress.

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