Many dog owners enjoy taking their furry friends with them everywhere they go, but it’s a bad idea in the type of extreme heat that’s blanketed Iowa this week. Josh Colvin is with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. “Dog in cars…in general, it’s not illegal. But, when we’re talking about dogs in cars in heat like this, that is illegal,” Colvin says. “It takes only a matter of minutes for the car to really heat up.” Bianca Zaffarano, with the Veterinary Clinic at Iowa State University, says it takes only a few minutes for the situation to turn critical when a dog is left alone in a vehicle in 90-plus degree temperatures.
“If you pull up to a store on a hot day and you see an animal closed in a car, even with the windows cracked, you should call 911,” Zaffarano says. “You can then go in and tell the manager what’s going on and they can make an announcement to have the owner come back as quickly as possible to the car.” She says taking the pet along for the ride is not a treat when temperatures and humidity are this high. Zaffarano says unlike humans, dogs need to pant to keep themselves cool. In a stuffy car, they are unable to regulate their temperature and that, she says, can lead to death.
“By nature, they’ll seek a cool place or try to get out a window. Often, animals try and squeeze out of a window and when they can’t…that will increase their panic and heart rate and just escalate the problem quickly,” Zaffarano says. Colvin says it’s not even a good idea to take your dog on a walk on days likes these. The high heat can damage an animal’s heart.
“On top of that too, the pads of their feet can burn on sidewalks,” Colvin says.