In the brutal heat of the summer, Hanover County Animal Control reminds all citizens that leaving your pet in your vehicle for even a few minutes on sunny days – even if the windows are not rolled up – can be critical to them.
“A pet can die in only a few minutes if left in a car even with the windows rolled down,” warns Jeffrey S. Parker, Chief of Hanover County Animal Control. “Bring them inside or leave them at home, but don’t leave them in a car. Even when it’s only 80 degrees outside and sunny, the inside of a car gets hot very quickly and your pet will become overheated.”
On a warm, sunny day, the temperature in a parked car can reach a temperature of 120º in minutes, even with the car window partially open. “A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from a heatstroke when trapped in these high temperatures,” Parker said.
Parking in the shade offers little protection, as the sun shifts during the day.
If your pet is exposed to high temperatures:
- Be alert for signs of heat stress—heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.
- If your pet becomes overheated, you must lower its body temperature immediately. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over its body to gradually lower its temperature. Apply ice packs or cool towels to your pet’s head, neck and chest only. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
- Finally, take your pet directly to a veterinarian—it could save its life.
If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call 911 immediately. Hanover County Animal Control will be patrolling certain areas including parking lots looking for pets and other living things that may be in heat distress because of being left in vehicles.
If your animal dies as a result of being left in a vehicle, you could be charged with cruelty to animals, which is a felony and if convicted could lead to jail time and/or a fine.
Here are some additional tips for taking care of your pet in hot weather:
- Don’t force your pet to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather. Exercise it in the early morning or evening, and keep walks to a minimum.
- Never leave your dog standing on hot asphalt. Its body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn.
- Do not take an animal to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water. Rinse it off after it has been in salt water.
- Owners shall provide shade and a well-constructed doghouse that does not conduct heat for animals staying outside. Bring your dog inside during the hottest part of the day, and make sure it has plenty of cool water. Keep cats indoors.
- Be extra sensitive to old and overweight animals in hot weather. Snub-nosed dogs such as bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Lhasa Apso and shih Tzu, as well as those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
In addition, Parker advises residents that tethering an animal outdoors shall not constitute providing adequate shelter unless the animal is safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its’ environment.
Other circumstances in which outdoor tethering does not constitute adequate shelter:
- During the effective period for a hurricane warning or tropical storm warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service.
- During a heat advisory issued by a local or state authority
- When the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
- During the effective period for a severe weather warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service, including a winter storm, tornado, or severe thunderstorm warning, unless an animal control officer, having inspected an animals individual circumstances in heat advisory conditions, has determined the animal to be safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment.
The tether must be 4 times (nose to base of tail) or 15 feet in length, whichever is greater and does not weigh more than 1/10 of the animal’s body weight.