Whether through sudden and unpredictable freezes or the hazy days of summer, extreme temperatures can certainly be trying times for pets. Many pet owners understand that every summer, hundreds of dogs become ill or die when left in a hot vehicle. Conversely, through winter, dogs are also highly susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.
When walking your pet or allowing him to run in a fenced area, you should consider your pet’s health and tolerance for cold weather. As a rule, most healthy medium or large dogs can walk for up to 30 minutes if the temperature is above 20 degrees (F°). Smaller dogs should limit their walk to 15 minutes if temps are between 20 and 32 degrees (F°).
In Maryland, it’s illegal to leave an animal “unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety. If you encounter an animal that has been left unattended in a vehicle, we advise that you take the following steps:
- Take down or photograph the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number
- Have the owner paged in the nearest buildings.
- If you are unable to locate the owner, or if the owner is unresponsive, call local humane society authorities, animal control, or police immediately. Describe the emergency.
- Ask someone to keep an eye on the dog
- If authorities are unresponsive, or if the animal is in imminent danger, find a witness who can attest to your assessment, and concerns
- If you find that you absolutely must take steps to remove the animal from the vehicle, be sure to cause the least possible damage to the vehicle. You may be held financially responsible for the damage.
- Watch for hypothermia symptoms that will vary with the level of severity. Mild hypothermia is evident through weakness, shivering, and lack of mental alertness. Moderate hypothermia reveals characteristics such as muscle stiffness, low blood pressure, a stupor-like state, and shallow, slow breathing. Through summer, heatstroke will present as: restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and lack of coordination. If a dog displays any of these symptoms, get him out extreme temperatures right away.
- Provide water for the animal. Wait for the authorities to arrive.
- Don’t leave the site until the situation has been resolved.
When in doubt, remember – if it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s probably also too cold for your pet to be out on a prolonged basis. Be safe, not sorry!
Elisa Kamens CPT
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
PS. In the event that you expect to be away from home through the holidays and don’t wish to leave your pup alone, please give us a call at Club Pooche to inquire about boarding. We’ll be happy to help!