Health & Wellness

Keep Pets Cool and Safe During the Dog Days of Summer


MORRISTOWN, NJ – The dog days of summer are here and with the rise in temperatures comes the need to keep pets cool and safe.

"“You want to make sure you limit the time outdoors during the peak temperatures of the day (12 pm- 4pm) and do not exercise your pets during these hours," said Kristen Hedderich, Director of Morris Animal Inn's Pet Care Operations. "“Having accessible fresh clean water is very important.”

Hedderich advises strongly against leaving dogs – or any animal for that matter – in a hot car. “Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle, she said.  "Temperatures can rise at an accelerated rate, making it unbearable for your pet.   Even cracking the windows is not enough to make it a safe environment for your pet.”

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According to, on a sunny, 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car after a half-hour can reach 104 degrees; after an hour, it can reach 113 degrees. On a day when the temperature ranges between 80- and 100-degrees the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130- to 172-degrees.

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) reports that, each summer, countless dogs and cats suffer needlessly or die in cars that become ovens when it is hot outside.

“Though it may seem cool outside, the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows rolled down…[and] on an average summer day, the temperature in your car can reach a scalding 160 degrees inside in a matter of minutes,” states NJSPCA. “The buildup of heat inside of a car can kill an animal very quickly. A pet can die of heat prostration within 15 minutes.”

Currently, 26 states throughout the country have enacted laws to help prevent the tragic deaths of animals left in parked vehicles; New Jersey is currently one of only two states, however, in which leaving a pet unattended under dangerous conditions is a crime, punishable by a fine of $250 to $1,000 and/or six months in jail; however, if the pet dies, or there is a prior conviction, the charge becomes more would be more severe.

“If you need to run some errands, leave the furry ones at home,” according to

According to Hedderick,  “If a pet becomes overheated, use cool damp towels to help lower their core body temperature and use rubbing alcohol on paw pads (evaporation helps lower the temperature).  Make sure to move the pet to a cool/air conditioned area.”

While it is dangerous – and in some places illegal - to leave a dog outside when the temperature drops below 35 degrees, it is just as unsafe to do so in excessive heat.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs become dehydrated and overheated, but, unlike their human companions, they cannot cool themselves down the same. Although they have a limited amount of sweat glands in their paws, canines rely mostly on panting and vasodilation, the expansion of blood vessels, to cool down.

Unfortunately, panting, vasodilation, and limited sweating are not as efficient at cooling dogs down as sweating is for humans,” states the AKC website, warning that excessive heat exposure can result in a dog suffering from heat stress, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke include heavy panting, dehydration, excessive drooling, red gums, rapid or irregular heart rate, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, unconsciousness, temperatures above 105 degrees, and, in some cases, even seizures. If left untreated for too long, heat stroke can be fatal.

“Black pavement becomes very hot during the day, so make sure to limit walking on the pavement", said Hedderick. “Senior pets and dogs with brachycephalic breeds (dogs & cats with short muzzles and noses) need to be monitored closely in the heat.”

Be cautious and take all the proper steps to ensure their furry friends stay safe and cool when the temperatures rise.  If you see a dog in a hot car, contact the nearest police department or division of animal control and stay with the dog until help arrives; record details such as license plate, color, make and model; and, if applicable, alert the business’ management.

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