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Don’t break a window: BC SPCA outlines how best to handle a dog left in a hot car

Signs of heatstroke and how to help your pets during heat waves

Sunshine in the forecast for B.C. begs the reminder, don’t leave dogs in hot cars.

While the province urged residents to stay safe and noted the rising temperatures won’t hit heat dome status this week – the dangers to those left in hot cars remain.

A short time in a hot car can cause harmful and life-threatening effects. Dogs can’t release heat by sweating, as humans do, so their internal body temperature rises more quickly, the BC SPCA reminded.

RELATED: Province prepared as temperatures poised to surge in B.C., says emergency minister

While most people mean well, the BC SPCA strongly recommended not breaking a window if a dog is left inside a vehicle. Legally, only police and BC SPCA special constables have the authority to enter a vehicle to help a pet in distress.

Breaking a window risks harming the dog and puts the prospective Good Samaritan at risk. What folks can do, is keep a kit in the car that includes bottled water, a small bowl, a small battery-powered fan, and a towel that can be soaked in water.

If there is a window slightly open, hydrate the animal while awaiting an emergency response.

Even leaving the car with the air conditioning running isn’t recommended by the BC SPCA as it can stop working.

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If a dog is showing clear signs of distress, promptly call local animal control, police, or the BC SPCA helpline at 1-855-622-7722.

Signs of heatstroke:

• Exaggerated panting or the sudden stopping of panting

• Rapid or erratic pulse

• Salivation, anxious or staring expression

• Weakness and muscle tremors or lack of coordination

• Convulsions or vomiting, and collapse

What to do:

• Move your pet to a cool, shady place

• Wet the animal with cool water

• Do not apply ice as this will constrict blood flow and discourage cooling

• Fan your pet to promote evaporation. This cools the blood, helping to reduce the animal’s core temperature

• Allow your pet to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)

• Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment

BC SPCA also offers tips on caring for pets during hot weather in general online at


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About the Author: Oak Bay News Staff

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