Keep pets out of the heat

Lorie Chortyk from the B.C. SPCA reminds people not to leave their pets inside hot vehicles this summer.

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to remind pet guardians across B.C. about the serious consequences for pets left inside cars on hot days.

Every year, the SPCA receives hundreds of complaints about dogs left in hot cars because many people still don’t grasp the danger of this situation. Even if you park in the shade and it seems cool outside when you leave, the sun can change direction and heat up a car’s interior in no time. With an outside temperature of just 26 C, the temperature inside a parked car at this time of year — even one that’s in the shade with the windows cracked — can climb to above 37 C in just 10 minutes and 43 C in 20 minutes. A dog’s normal temperature is 38 C. At 41C your dog begins to suffer irreparable brain damage or death.

If you see a dog languishing in a hot car, call the SPCA, animal control or police. Before the authorities arrive, help prevent a tragedy by attempting to find the animal’s guardian. If the car is in a mall or grocery store parking lot, for example, ask to have the owner paged over the building’s PA system. Return to the car to monitor the dog’s condition. Guardians should also use caution when exercising their pets under the sweltering summer sun.

Signs of heatstroke in pets include exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting); rapid or erratic pulse; salivation; weakness and muscle tremors; lack of co-ordination; convulsions or vomiting; and collapse. If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place; wet the dog with cool water (do not apply ice as it constricts blood flow); fan vigorously to promote evaporation; allow the dog to drink some cool water; and take the dog to a veterinarian. For more tips on how to keep your pet safe and happy this summer, visit

Lorie Chortyk is the general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. Mayor Kerry Cook’s column is unavailable this week.