People enjoy taking their dogs in the car when they run errands around Las Vegas. But parked cars get dangerously hot quickly in Nevada. Dogs left in a hot car in Las Vegas can suffer heatstroke and die in a matter of minutes or be so badly harmed that the poor pup must be euthanized.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says hundreds of pets die every year from excessive heat when they are left in parked vehicles. The American Kennel Club says that confining a dog to a car is the most common cause of heatstroke. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it is never safe to leave an animal in a parked vehicle, even just for a moment with the windows cracked.
Those of you who know Sam & Ash Injury Law and our Canine Executive Officer Rocky know how much dogs mean to us. We can’t imagine the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet because of a misconception that the pet would not be harmed if left alone in a parked car. It’s against the law in Nevada to leave a dog or cat unattended in an enclosed car during periods of extreme heat.
Hot Car Interiors and the Cracked Window Myth
The temperature inside a closed motor vehicle rises quickly. In just 10 minutes, the temperature can rise almost 20⁰ F, and after 20 minutes it can be almost 30⁰ F hotter inside the vehicle. After an hour, your vehicle’s inside temperature can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature, the AVMA says.
The average daytime high in Las Vegas tops 100⁰ F from June through August. Year-round the average daytime high in Las Vegas is 80.4⁰ F.
A closed car in Las Vegas can top 100⁰ F in 10 minutes on many days of the year. Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you.
Cracking the windows doesn’t make your car any cooler. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian in North Carolina,posted a video showing that the interior temperature of his SUV hits 117⁰ F in about 30 minutes, even with all four windows cracked open.
What Happens to Dogs in Hot Cars?
A dog’s normal internal body temperature is 101.5⁰ F. Any temperature above normal is hyperthermia. When a dog’s body temperature tops 105⁰ F, the dog may suffer from heatstroke.
When dogs pant, air passing over the moist tissue of their tongues and nasal passages is cooling but this tissue and the lining of their lungs eventually dry out.
“Heatstroke usually occurs when high ambient temperature overcomes the dog’s ability to dissipate heat,” Dr. Jerry Klein, the AKC’s chief veterinary officer, says. “The degree of damage is determined by how high a body temperature is reached and how long the animal is exposed.”
Heatstroke in dogs is life-threatening and can cause serious complications, such as seizures and vomiting, which increase dehydration.
Know the Signs of Heatstroke and How To Treat It
Early signs of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting and rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive drooling
- Dry mucous membranes
- Bright red gums and tongue
- Skin hot to the touch
Affected dogs may have difficulty maintaining balance. As exposure to excessive heat continues, a dog’s condition becomes grave and includes signs of shock:
- Pale mucous membranes and white or blue gums
- Very rapid heart rate
- A drop in blood pressure
As hyperventilation and dehydration worsen, the dog will have muscle tremors. Its pulse will become more irregular. The dog will eventually collapse and die.
How To Treat Possible Heatstroke in a Dog
If you notice signs of heatstroke in your dog, it’s critical to try to lower the dog’s body temperature. Stop any activity that you and your dog are engaged in and:
- Walk or carry the dog to a well-ventilated, cool area.
- Spray or sponge the dog with cool or tepid water, especially on its underside. Do not immerse the animal in cold water.
- Use a fan to blow cool air on him.
If you have a rectal thermometer, take the dog’s temperature. If the temperature is higher than 105⁰ F, try to cool the dog and retake the temperature after a few minutes. Stop actively cooling the dog once the temperature reaches 103⁰ F.
Take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as their temperature reaches 103⁰ F or if you can’t reduce their temperature significantly. Severely affected dogs require fluids, medication, support, and oxygen.
Nevada Law Prohibits Leaving Dogs in Unattended Car During Heat or Cold
Nevada state law (NRS 202.487) makes it illegal to leave a dog or cat unattended in parked or standing vehicles during periods of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the animal. Violators may be charged with a misdemeanor, and if found guilty, punished with a fine of up to $1,000 and 2 days to 6 months in jail.
Police, animal control officers, and others employed in public safety may use any force that is necessary including breaking a window to remove a dog or cat from a motor vehicle. An animal removed in such a manner may then be seized until a hearing is held.
Alternatives To Leaving Your Dog in the Car
If you are running errands, bring a friend along who can stay in the car with your pet with the air conditioning on or who can play with the animal outside while you are taking care of business.
Many bars and restaurants in Las Vegas will welcome your dog. Las Vegas Lens says there are more than 200 pet-friendly restaurants in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Weekly identified more than a dozen coffee shops and restaurants with patios open to dogs.
BringFido lists restaurants, hotels, activities (including shopping), and events that welcome dogs in cities across the U.S., including Las Vegas. Many “big box” stores are dog-friendly, too.
Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car.