We are seeing 90-degree temperatures now, and that means it will only get hotter as the dog days of summer set in. This is the beginning of a dangerous time for pets — those outside in the heat, but also for those four-legged co-pilots in our vehicles. Every summer, the same headlines pop up about an animal or a child left in a hot car.

Leaving a dog (or child) in a vehicle can quickly turn deadly in a matter of minutes. Dogs are extremely vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet. Being left in a car, even one parked in the shade or with the windows cracked, can compromise a pet’s health in a short amount of time.

For example, it may be 72 degrees outside, but a car’s internal temperature can rise to 116 degrees within 20 minutes. Neither leaving the windows cracked nor parking in the shade is a solution.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can withstand a high body temperature for only a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage brain damage or even death.

What should someone do if they see a dog in a hot car?

First, if it's at a business, go inside and ask the manager to make an announcement. Call the police and the local animal control agency. If the dog is in distress, call 911 right away.

Bottom line: For the safety of the pet, please leave him at home if he cannot go inside when you're out and about. We never know how long the checkout line will be or what distraction can turn a two-minute errand into 20 minutes.

A dog can also suffer from the heat during a walk or at the dog park. It’s best not to take Fido for a 2 p.m. jog or have him outside for extended periods when the temps are high. Make sure he has plenty of shade and fresh, cool water at all times when outdoors.

Signs that a dog is suffering from a heat-related illness include:

  • Excessive panting and/or drooling.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Disorientation.
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness.
  • Seizure.
  • Respiratory arrest.


SATURDAY: Meet adoptable animals from the Louisiana SPCA from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie. Adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help you select the perfect rescue pet. A bake sale will be held to benefit the Special Needs Fund. For more information, visit www.la-spca.org/adopt.

SATURDAY: From 10 a.m. to noon, meet adoptable animals in foster care from the Louisiana SPCA for a Foster Social in their Adoption Center, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Current fosters and animals in foster care will be in attendance, with the Louisiana SPCA placement team there to answer any questions. To learn more about fostering, visit www.la-spca.org/foster.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, from noon to 4 p.m. with adoptable dogs and information on fostering, volunteering and adopting. For more info, email adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org.

MONDAY: Puppy Preschool, a 5-week group class led by a professional trainer from the Louisiana SPCA, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Louisiana SPCA, 1770 Mardi Gras Blvd. in New Orleans. Get your puppy get started on impulse control, address and prevent behavior problems and provide important time sensitive experiences that will set your puppy up to be well-socialized for life. Puppies must be 17 weeks or younger at the start of their first class and have received their first 2 rounds of DHPP vaccines. Preregister at www.la-spca.org/training or email training@la-spca.org.

TUESDAY: Basic Manners, a five-week group training class, starts at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Feed on Jefferson Highway. Taught by a certified trainer from the Louisiana SPCA, the class covers behaviors such as sit, down, stay, come, leave-it and focus. To attend Basic Manners, register in advance at la-spca.org/training.

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.