It’s hot out there and while bringing pets along for a ride in the car may be well-intended, a Victoria pet advocate calls it an ill-advised choice that could have severe consequences.
Bre Beckett, senior manager at the BC SPCA Victoria branch, says it’s “super dangerous” for pets to be left in hot vehicles, even for just a few minutes.
“Pets don’t have the same sweat mechanisms humans do,” explained Beckett.
Dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds like pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers and others with compressed faces, can’t withstand high temperatures for long periods.
“Their internal body temperature can rise to levels of extreme pet heat stroke and even death,” she said. “A few minutes is really critical for pets in cars.”
Heat stroke in pets may appear as exaggerated panting, rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, lack of coordination and vomiting, so it’s important to have cool water on hand if these symptoms arise.
Even if parked in the shade with windows partially open, Beckett says a vehicle’s cabin temperature could rise rapidly and blasting the A/C is not a guaranteed solution.
“The A/C could stop,” she told CHEK News.
When spotting a pet in distress in a vehicle, she oftentimes finds that locals want to take action immediately, “which is really great about Victoria.”
However, Beckett urges people to refrain from breaking a vehicle’s window.
“It puts yourself and the animal in danger,” she said. “Don’t take that upon yourself. But what you should do is write down the vehicle’s make, colour and license plate and call the RCMP or BC SPCA call centre at 1-855-622-7722.”
According to Beckett, the Victoria SPCA receives around 1,000 calls every summer about hot dogs in vehicles and this week, call volumes have skyrocketed amid rising temperatures.
“It’s been pretty calm this summer, but as soon as the heat wave hit, we saw an immediate increase. Our call centre has doubled in the past week,” she said.
Even taking a pet for a walk amid the heat could have adverse effects.
That’s because cats and dogs have sensitive paw pads that become vulnerable, with surfaces like pavement, asphalt and artificial grass becoming searingly hot.
“Pavement holds such a high temperature that it burns paws,” said Beckett. “So we really advise folks to think proactively about where they’re exercising their pets in this weather.”
A trick Beckett often tells people is to place their palm on the pavement, and if they can hold it there comfortably for five seconds, it should be OK for pets.
“But if it’s too hot for your hand to hold for five seconds, then the pavement is too hot for paws,” she added.
Amid a heat warning, daytime highs in Greater Victoria are forecast to reach 31 degrees Celsius over the next few days — which means asphalt will feel like a sizzling 62 degrees, according to an SPCA infographic.
Before reaching for the leash, the SPCA urges pet owners to walk during cooler times and keep midday walks short, sticking to the grass and shady and cool routes.