WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Even 60 Degrees Is Too Hot For Pets in Cars!

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
7/31/2009, 9:05:07 PM

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Some of you pet owners out there have probably wondered when seeing a dog trapped in a car on a warm day: How hot is too hot for pets in an enclosed vehicle? Turns out, it's a much lower temperature than you would think. Read on.

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We've all heard the tragic stories, the most recent headline read "7 SHOW DOGS DIE IN HOT VAN". These are the ones that made the news; no doubt countless others have not.

The points I want to make here are:

1. It doesn't have to be hot outside to be dangerous inside a car. 2. The temperature spike happens quick. 2. Cracking windows doesn't help.


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It turns out that a car can turn deadly for pets on a winter day -- with an outside temperature of only 60 degrees! This article says "Even if it is a comfortable 60 degrees outside, a closed-car interior can reach 100 degrees on a sunny day." Another says "Even on a mild day at 73 degrees outside, an SUV can heat up to 100 degrees in ten minutes and to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes. At 90 degrees outside, the interior of a vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes." Testing this out is not rocket science, in the video below we placed a thermometer inside a car and saw it spike to over 130; I have personally witnessed 155 degrees on a thermometer inside a car.

A friend of mine passed this Stanford research article to me:

Which says in part:

"Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study to measure the temperature rise inside a parked car on sunny days with highs ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F. Their results showed that a car's interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour, regardless of ambient temperature. Ambient temperature doesn't matter - it's whether it's sunny out. Eighty percent of the temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out. Precautions such as cracking a window or running the air conditioner prior to parking the car were found to be inadequate.

"If more people knew the danger of leaving their pets in their parked car, they probably wouldn't do it," states Kim Salerno, TRIPSwithPETS.com President & Founder. "Pets are very susceptible to overheating as they are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people are" adds Salerno. The solution is simple – leave your pets at home if the place you are going does not allow pets.

Dogs are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have hot air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress."

P.S.: It's possible for it to be too hot for a dog in your yard too. Tragically, 19 dogs died last week in the Phoenix area.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)