Tips to safeguard animals and children during hot weather

Bo and Miley swimming on a hot summer day.  Photo by Shawntae Stillwell
Bo and Miley swimming on a hot summer day.
Photo by Shawntae Stillwell


Oreo and Benny Roo in the summer heat. Photo by Kevin Cudabac
Oreo and Benny Roo in the summer heat.
Photo by Kevin Cudabac


COLLIN COUNTY, Tx. – Following a news report about a 6-month-old child who was found dead in the back seat of a hot car on Tuesday, PETA is issuing a warning about safety during hot weather: No one, including kids, cats, dogs, or any other animals, should ever be left alone in a car, especially on a day as warm as Tuesday, with temperatures up to 95 degrees. Animals and children are the most vulnerable in these situations, and one mistake can cost lives.

On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes—and on a 90-degree day, interior temperatures can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

PETA makes the following suggestions for safeguarding animals:

• Keep dogs indoors. Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heatstroke, injury, or death.

• Supply water and shade. If animals must be left outside, they should be provided with ample water and shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun can have life-threatening consequences.

• Walk—don’t run. In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by cycling while they try to keep up or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.

• Avoid hot cars. Never leave an animal or a child in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows slightly open. Dogs and children trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if a car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.

• Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck. This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states—because animals can choke if they jump out while they’re tied up or can catapult out of a truck bed if the driver makes a sudden stop.

• Stay alert and save a life. Keep an eye on all animals you see outdoors. Make sure that they have adequate water and shelter. If you see animals in distress, provide them with water for immediate relief and then contact humane authorities right away.

• Use a cooling vest or mat: Dog cooling equipment, such as wearable vests or bed mats, come in a range of materials and prices and help prevent overheating. Simply freeze or soak the items in cold water to keep dogs comfortable while on a walk or lounging. Placing cold water bottles in a dog’s bed also works.

If you see dogs showing any symptoms of heatstroke—including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite or loss of coordination—get them into the shade immediately. You can lower symptomatic dogs’ body temperature by providing them with water, applying a cold towel to their head and chest, or immersing them in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.

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