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SOUTH SHORE: Leave Spot at home

Published on: July 10, 2018

Leave Spot at home …



Even if the outside temperature is only 80, a car can heat up to 100 degrees within a matter of minutes. Hillsborough County Pet Services said leave your dog at home this time of year, rather than leaving them in a hot car. YVETTE C. HAMMETT PHOTO

That dog someone left in the car while they ran into the grocery store for a few things could die from the heat within 15 minutes under Florida’s scalding summer sun.

Even when it’s only 78 degrees outside, a car can heat up to 100 degrees within minutes, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Hillsborough County’s Pet Services is sounding the alarm as well, warning dog owners that this time of year it’s best to leave Spot at home in the air conditioning.

“People seem to keep forgetting not to leave children or pets in the car even with the windows cracked,” said Dr. Lisa Centonze, head veterinarian at the county shelter on Falkenberg Road. “The car temperature can escalate to over 100 degrees within just a matter of minutes. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, but it is illegal in some states.”

It is not illegal in Florida; however, a law passed in 2016 makes it legal to break into locked vehicles to rescue pets and people believed to be in imminent danger of harm.

Centonze said the shelter gets several dogs each summer that have suffered from heat exhaustion or worse, because someone left them in a car.

Dogs and cats with flat faces, like pugs and boxers and Shih Tzus, as well as Persian cats, are much more susceptible to heat stroke because they can’t pant effectively, she said. Remember the bulldog on that airline flight a few months back that got shoved into the overhead bin and died in-flight?

Older pets, animals with health conditions, overweight animals and pets with thick fur like huskies and shepherds, should stay in the air conditioning this time of year.

“We’ve had to have officers retrieve animals locked in cars. And some of them actually do have heat strokes,” the veterinarian said.

Here is a table from that shows what happens inside a car in the heat of summer:

Outside Temp: 70 degrees

Inside Temp, 10 mins.: 89 degrees

Inside Temp: 30 mins: 104 degrees

Outside Temp: 85 degrees

Inside Temp, 10 minutes: 104 degrees

Inside Temp, 30 minutes: 119 degrees

Outside Temp: 95 degrees

Inside Temp, 10 minutes: 114 degrees

Inside Temp, 30 minutes: 129 degrees

Look for symptoms of overheating this summer. “If you are with your dog you need to know when it’s time to bring them inside,” Centonze said. “That includes when the pet displays excessive panting, drooling, a difference in their breathing, weakness and collapse. 

“Those first few are precursors to seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. A normal body temperature for a dog is 100 to 102.5. Anything over 104 degrees is heat distress and 106 you are in heat stroke with possible organ failure and brain damage.”

Pets can also get dehydrated quickly, so make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water. If they are staying outside, make sure they have a shady place to escape the heat. “Don’t over-exercise them. One of my pet peeves is people on bikes running dogs while they are biking. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. it’s really dangerous in the summer. Do it before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Do short bouts of exercise.”

Asphalt is another summer peril to avoid when possible. When the temperature is hot, asphalt is much hotter and can injure a pet’s paw pads. Even sidewalks can be hot, so beware.

One last tip from Centonze: Visit the veterinarian to make sure your pet is in good health and is on medicine to prevent deadly heartworms, which are transmitted by mosquitos. Cats can get heartworms, too, she said.