NASHVILLE (WSMV) - In preparation for those hot summer months, the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association is offering tips to avoid "hot car" emergencies with your pet and what to do if you find a dog locked in a hot car.
According to a news release, if you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke or is in distress, call your veterinarian immediately. Cool the dog with room-temperature, tepid water, rather than ice. Wet the entire dog and place it in front of a fan. Do not force your pet to drink. Your vet will perform life-saving measures like oxygen therapy and fluid replacement, in addition to monitoring organ failure. A dog suffering from heat stroke will likely need to stay in the hospital for 24-48 hours.
Dogs suffering from heat stroke damage their blood vessels, kidneys and liver. They can also experience disorientation, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and eventually death. About 50% of dogs who get treated for heat stroke do not survive, making it very important to act quickly when an animal is showing signs of distress.
Studies show cracking vehicle windows do little to impact the heat inside the car; the same goes for the color of the car. Dogs don't sweat like humans, causing them to overheat faster. When dogs pant in hot enclosed areas, they recycle hot air, causing an increase in body heat due to increased muscular activity.
On a 70-degree day, it only takes 20 minutes for the inside of your car to reach 99 degrees. Tennessee law allows people to break into hot cars if an animal is trapped inside without fear of punishment if certain steps are followed.
The law, implemented in July 2015, extends the Good Samaritan law from just children to pets. The law also protects the person from civil liability for the damages done to the vehicle while attempting to rescue the child or animal.
The person must ensure the car is locked and not running and that the child or animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm. Law enforcement should be notified.