Veterinarians Urge Pet Owners to Take Precautions in Extreme Heat

Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 23:28:20-04

As hot temperatures continued to grip Middle Tennessee, area Veterinarians reminded pet owners to take precautions to ensure their furry friends stay safe.

A Tennessee law that went into effect in 2015, allows people to break into a hot car if an animal is trapped inside.  First, steps must be taken to ensure the car is locked. It must be determined that the animal is in imminent danger, and law enforcement must be notified. However, the law protects good Samaritans from civil liabilities for damage caused during the rescue.

“In 100 degree temperatures, a car can heat up to 140 degrees in just 15 minutes,” said Dr. Mike Fenwick, a Veterinarian at Hermitage Animal Clinic. “Any type of animal is at risk in this kind of temperature.”

Dr. Fenwick said a dog left in an unattended car in the heat could die from heat stroke in just a few minutes.  Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and bright red gums.  If a dog is experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, Dr. Fenwick recommended immediately moving it to a cool and shady area, and cooling it down by applying cool water to its tongue and paws.  Call your veterinarian if you have concerns.

“Be aware,” said Dr. Fenwick. “Dog owners should think about what they are doing, think about their surroundings.  Don’t be in a hurry. Think about what you have in your car.”

Dogs at highest risk for heat stroke include puppies, older dogs, breeds with short muzzles or snouts, any dog with a black or thick coat or any existing medical conditions.

Daniel Ryan was one of a handful of dog owners who braved the afternoon heat the Shelby Dog Park in East Nashville. He said he keeps a close watch on his dogs Bambi and Buster in the extreme heat.

“I watch their water intake,” said Ryan. “If they aren’t drinking water, I cut the trip short.”

Ryan said if he saw a dog trapped in a hot car, he would know what to do.

“If I saw a dog sitting in a hot car roasting, law or no law, that window is toast,” said Ryan.