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D2009-34

Dear Daisy Dog

How long can I safely leave my dog in the car, assuming the windows are partially open? Please answer with the number of minutes, depending on whether my car is parked in the sun or shade, and the outside air temperature is 60 through 75 degrees.

Daisy Responds

If you’re looking for an answer you can remember easily, here it is: never.

That’s right. This canine columnist, who relishes data and would like nothing better than to suggest a formula, just can’t give you a number.

That’s because the answer depends on more than just temperature and humidity. Your dog’s age, health and personality all play a role.

Let me tell you a couple of true stories that, I hope, will reinforce the notion that dogs can develop heatstroke at surprisingly cool temperatures.

On a 60-degree day, a beagle waited in a car parked in the shade with the windows open a bit. Soon after his human walked away, the dog became anxious and started panting.

Twenty minutes later, the man returned to his car, realized his dog was in trouble and rushed him to the veterinarian. On arrival, the beagle’s temperature was 109.5 degrees. Despite aggressive treatment, he died within 30 minutes.

In another case, also on a 60-degree day, a Bichon started barking when her human left the car just long enough to pick up her dry cleaning. By the time the dog arrived at the vet, her temperature was 108 degrees and she was in cardiac arrest. She, too, died.

I love to ride in the car with Mom, and she enjoys my company. But she doesn’t take me along on errands, even during autumn, because of the risk of heatstroke.

 

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