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August 31, 2004 > A Dangerous Formula: Car + Pet + Sun

A Dangerous Formula: Car + Pet + Sun

by Nancy Lyon

The recent spell of very hot weather and the promise of more to come have prompted a re-run of our article on the serious and often life-threatening effects of hot weather on our animal companions.

With the onset of summery temperatures comes the need for a heightened awareness of protections we should consider for the safety of our animal friends.

On a seemingly "OK" warm day the temperature in a parked car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes -- even with the windows partially down. Because of the "greenhouse effect," a dog or other animal can quickly suffer brain damage from heat stroke or suffocation when trapped in high temperatures. The basic rule-of-thumb should be to never leave your companion animal unattended in a parked car for any period of time.

While you may never do this, there are many less knowledgeable people. By knowing the signs of heat stress you may be able to save a life. If an animal left alone in a car exhibits one or more of the following symptoms, you need to intervene: barking, heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, a deep red or purple tongue, excessive drooling or vomiting. This is definitely an emergency and the animal should be removed from the vehicle and seen by a veterinarian immediately.

If you witness an animal in such distress, call for assistance without delay. Animal Services places priority on these calls but recent budgetary cutbacks may prolong field services response time or it may be completely unavailable. In that case, a call to the Police Department emergency line is the best option. Let them know you will be waiting at the vehicle and give clear instructions as to its make, color, license number and location. For the sake of continuity, make sure to get the name of your phone contact.

The best solution to prevent our fuzzy-coated friends from becoming victims of the heat is to leave them safely at home -- no matter how much you may want him with you or he tries to convince you that he'll die if he can't come for that ride -- the opposite could well be the terrible truth.

Prevention is the best course of action and by following some basic hot weather tips you can help insure your animal friend's comfort and survival:

汾alk your dog in the morning before the day warms up. It's easier and more pleasant for you and your dog. Remember that if the sidewalk is too hot for you to place your hand on it for more than a couple of seconds, then it's too hot for your dog who isn't wearing tennis shoes to comfortably walk on with her unprotected paws.

汾hile we never recommend transporting your dog in the back of an open pickup truck, the same rule should apply. The bed of an uncovered truck exposed to the sun can quickly become a frying pan to your dog. Dogs trying to escape the burning heat may fall into traffic, or if tethered, strangle themselves.

求on't ever exercise your dog while riding your bicycle and running him on a lead. He can quickly overheat and dogs trying to keep up have died agonizing deaths. Your dog trusts you to exercise good judgement on his behalf, and the walking will do you both good.

決ake sure a water source is handy. Consider carrying your own. It's safer from contamination.

求ogs are not the only critters who fall victim to hot weather. Rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles and other small animals can suffer and die of overheating. Fresh water, shade, a cool inside room, a large pop bottle filled with water, tightly re-capped and frozen, can be snuggled up to and can provide a cooling lifesaver.

每aged birds should be placed in cool rooms and carefully monitored to avoid sun exposure.

沒un-loving cats like to hangout on windowsills. Not all cats land on their feet, and falls from open windows above ground floor level can result in severe injuries not to mention hefty veterinary costs. Make sure those screens are secure.

The emergency phone numbers for animals suffering from heat exposure are:

Fremont Animal Services, 510-790-6634/5 (Monday-Friday)
Fremont Police Department, 510-790-6800 press # 0, ask for dispatch (weekends)
Union City Animal Services, (Monday-Thursday) and Police Department, 510-471-1365
Newark Animal Services and Police Department, 510-790-7237 (dispatch)

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