Opinion: Don’t risk your dog’s life to have fun on the Fourth | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Don’t risk your dog’s life to have fun on the Fourth

Pamela Hormiotis
Special to the Sun-Bonanza

We understand people like to be kind by taking their dog with them driving, but they are risking his or her life if it's a warm or hot day.

On warm days, the inside of a car heats up very quickly. You may have purposely parked in the shade only to come out and find your car in the sun.

With the windows open a few inches on an 85-degree day, for instance, your car can heat up to 102 degrees in 10 minutes – to 120 degrees in 30 minutes.

It's even worse if the windows are closed as having no ventilation prevents the dog from regulating his body temperature. If the dog is barking or agitated, he gets hotter.

A dog's normal body temperature is 101.5 to 102.2 degrees. A dog can withstand a rise in body temperature for only a very short time before suffering irreparable organ damage (nerve, heart, liver and brain damage) — and in minutes can die.

Think about it … if a 15-degree rise in the inside temperature can kill, then why risk even a 5- or 10-degree rise that can do damage? Why allow her to be uncomfortable at all? Would you leave your child in a hot car?

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If your dog is overcome by heat exhaustion, immediately immerse him in cool (not cold) running water and continue until the body temperature lowers significantly.

Give him water (not ice water) to drink and take him to a veterinarian immediately to determine organ damage.

Sometimes organ damage shows up years later, and it's heartbreaking to lose your companion prematurely.

The bottom l,ine is it is illegal to leave your dog in a car in 16 states [Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia].

Law enforcement can access your car and confiscate your dog. You can suffer a great inconvenience along with a hefty fine.

Do what's right if you care — don't leave your dog in a car when it's warm outside.

I often see people walking along the street on a hot day, or standing talking to friends, enjoying the sunshine. They are wearing tank tops and shorts while their dog tap dances on the warm pavement trying to find shade.

Others ride their bicycles while the dog trots behind, panting profusely. Remember, dogs regulate their body temperatures through their feet, their ears and by panting.

Dogs do not have sandals, and the warm pavement makes them heat up even faster. Another thing people often do not consider – leaving their dogs sitting in an open-bed pick-up truck parked in the sun! Or going to summer events where "dogs are welcome."

The last few Fourth of July events at Lake Tahoe saw many hot dogs standing in the sun while their owners chatted with friends, and some were dressed in costumes that made them hotter.

For example, the Red, White and Tahoe Blue Dress Up Your Dog competition saw dogs scrambling to get off a hot stage that could fry an egg. With no shade available for the contestants, who is having fun here?

Think about the comfort of your dog and ask yourself "would she be better off being left at home in a cool house or standing in the hot sun listening to loud music?"

Speaking of the Fourth of July … do you know which weekend of the year sees the highest number of visits to Animal Hospitals and Veterinary Clinics?

Animals are terrified of the loud noise of the fireworks. Many escape their yards, jump off decks, climb out of cars, and even go through windows. They panic and get disoriented. Many wind up running down the middle of a busy street and are hit by cars.

Please — always be aware of what your dog is experiencing. Watch. Anticipate. Care. If you really love your four-legged companion, prepare a cool, quite environment for him at home where he can stay healthy and safe.

Close the windows and turn on the TV or radio to drown out the fireworks. Leave him home where he can enjoy the Fourth of July safely.

If you see a dog in a car that looks in distress, please call your local animal control, sheriff or 911.

Pamela Hormiotis is Founder/Executive Director of Lake Tahoe Wolf Rescue in Incline Village. Visit laketahoewolfrescue.com to learn more.