A Markham veterinarian took it upon himself to demonstrate the dangers of leaving a pet locked in a hot car by taping himself sitting in a parked car on a hot day for 30 minutes.
Dr. Cliff Redford told Global News on Monday he shot the video in early July when it was about 28 C and sunny outside. He wore a sweater to mimic a coat of fur.
“I’ve got the window down and cracked like you normally would — I can see the breeze, trees are moving but I’m already beading up with sweat, the air is heavy, it’s almost thick,” Redford can be heard saying in the video.
At just over the 10-minute mark, a thermometer showed the vehicle was already 20 C hotter than it was outside — sitting at close to 43 C. Cliff even began to experience technical issues with his phone because it overheated.
“It’s hot, I’m sweating. You have to imagine what it like for a pet in here. I know why I’m here. I’m trying to make a point. I can get out at any time once it gets uncomfortable,” Redford said.
“I know to stay calm, dogs are going to be jumping around, trying to get attention and raising their core temperatures even more. So this would be very anxiety-causing for these pets and it’s only been 10 minutes — imagine it being 20, 30 minutes.”
At the 20-minute mark, Redford was forced to take off the sweater because he was sweating so profusely.
“I am damp,” he said, pointing out that his resting heart rate went to 114 from 60, his normal heart rate.
“It’s just pounding, trying to pump out all the heat possible,” he said. “This would be what your pet is experiencing after only 20 minutes.”
At 25 minutes, the vehicle was at 50 C and when Redford finally hit the 30-minute mark, the vehicle was at 54 C and his resting heart rate was 132 beats a minute — more than twice as fast at waht it normally should be.
Redford said a pet would “probably” come out of a similar ordeal alive but they would most likely suffer from both long-term and short-term effects.
“Who knows what kind of damage it does to their kidneys. Even just the anxiety and the pain — it’s insufferable.”
On top of the physical harm the animals could endure, they are also at risk of negative psychological effects as well.
“They could become terrified of getting into a car, or being left alone. Situations of separation anxiety or extreme fearfulness where the animal can get dangerous where they could nip or bite a little bit,” he said.
The veterinarian said any pet involved in this situation should immediately be brought to a veterinarian to check them out. There are, however, a few things an owner or someone could do to help the animal in the moment.
“The key is to get their core temperature down to something that is more reasonable,” Redford said. “You want to give them water to drink, get them into the shade, hopefully there is a breeze. Then allow them to cool themselves off by panting but then also soak them in regular water – especially their ears, feet and maybe their belly.”
Redford noted dogs don’t sweat like humans can to cool off. He said since dogs pant, get the animals panting in the cool air.
But he warned against using things like rubbing alcohol, ice packs or ice baths among other things because they can “drop the core temperature too fast and put the animal into shock.”
Edge 102.1’s Fearless Fred did a similar stunt and did a broadcast live outside the studio in a vehicle on Thursday, in an effort to raise money for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).
“I’m raising awareness for how awful it is to leave a pet or child in a car during the summer months,” he said in one of many videos posted to social media.
Fred lasted 82 minutes until paramedics told him to get out of the vehicle — which was 43.8C degrees — due to safety concerns.
The issue of people leaving pets unattended in vehicles during the hot summer months is an “ongoing problem across Ontario,” OPSCA spokesperson Melissa Kosowan told Global News on Monday.
“There is no excuse for leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle,” she said.
If owners can’t take pets somewhere, the OPSCA said the animal should be left at home.
“Parked cars can quickly reach deadly temperatures, even on relatively mild days with the car parked in the shade and the windows open,” Kosowan said.
The organization started their No Hot Pets campaign in order to bring more awareness to the issue of leaving pets unattended in vehicles.
For Redford, he said the big thing is for owners to just not bring their pets with them, even if they will only be alone for a few minutes.
“We have to make sure we don’t leave our pets in our car,” he said.
“It can get pretty tragic, pretty fast.”
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