If it's hot leave your dog at home

German shepherd Xena waits for a cool snack from owner Bonnie Gordon during Chemainus’ Rockabilly Rumble held last weekend in Waterwheel Park. - Peter W. Rusland
German shepherd Xena waits for a cool snack from owner Bonnie Gordon during Chemainus’ Rockabilly Rumble held last weekend in Waterwheel Park.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

After six dogs died in the back of a truck in Langley in May, Sandi Trent thought the fact dogs should not be left in a hot car would be indelibly imprinted on minds.

“I thought it would be enough to jolt people, but it didn’t seem to,” said the branch manager of Cowichan’s SPCA. “It’s very frustrating.”

Trent said despite that incident, ongoing warnings and public service announcements, B.C. SPCA constables are being inundated with calls to rescue dogs left in hot cars. In June, the B.C. SPCA responded to 228 calls.

“We hear every excuse under the rainbow; it’s not that hot, the dog doesn’t like to be home alone,” Trent said. “I can’t stress it enough, leave your pets at home, you don’t want to take any chances.”

Existing laws mean only the RCMP and the SPCA’s provincial constables — the animal equivalent of police officers — are legislated to remove pets from cars.

Years ago, the Cowichan Valley had two constables on staff. Today, only one is responsible for this area,  Victoria and the Gulf Islands.

“We have limited resources,” she said.

Without sweat glands, dogs can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a short time — in some cases just minutes — before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Symptoms of heatstroke include: exaggerated panting, or sudden cessation to panting,  a rapid or erratic pulse, an anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, a lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting and/or collapse.

If you see those symptoms:

• Move the animal to a cool, shady place immediately;

• Wet the dog with cool water;

• Fan them vigorously to promote evaporation; this cools the blood and reduces the animal’s core temperature;

• Try to get the dog to drink some water, or failing that, ice cream;

• Take the dog to your vet asap for treatment.

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