Weather Wise: Dogs in hot cars

HELENA – The dog days of summer are back which means potentially dangerous car temperatures for your animal.

Every summer the Helena Police Department’s Animal Control receives regular calls of animals being left in vehicles.

A dog suffering from heatstroke will display several signs like rapid panting and a bright red tongue.

Dr. Misty Clausen of Montana Veterinary Specialists told KTVH that even though the temperature may only be 75 degrees outside, temperatures inside a closed car or car exposed to direct sun may exceed 120 degrees in the less than 20 minutes.

“At those temperatures death can occur in less than an hour,” said Clausen.

If a dog is experiencing heat stroke, immediate body cooling is necessary to prevent organ damage or death.

Clausen said the best thing to do is seek immediate veterinary attention.

Officer Mike Maynard of Helena Animal Control said that there has been only one case of a dog dying because due to heat in a vehicle over the last three years in the Capital City.

That animal was found in a truck bed.

“People may not realize it but truck beds can be just as bad as a closed car,” said Maynard. “Those black linings get just as hot and people don’t always think of it.”

Maynard attributes the low rate of animal death in town to the vigilance of Helena citizens who call to report animals that they think may be in danger.

If you suspect an animal to be in danger please contact 406-447-8461.