Only six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car

RSPCA ACT is reporting seeing animals needing urgent medical attention due to heatstroke and being left in cars as the burst of hot weather continues across Canberra.

CEO Michelle Robertson has expressed her concern regarding a rising number of heat-related incidents saying: “Our pets can’t always adequately cool themselves during such intense heat. It’s up to us as responsible pet owners to do everything we can to protect them.

“We want to caution the community to avoid heartbreak by potentially losing a beloved pet from heatstroke. Even a short walk in the heat of the day can be fatal and it only takes six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car.”

First aid tips:

  • Move the animal to a shaded/cool area and try and cool them down.
  • Try placing a wet garment or towel with cool water on its belly and groin area (NOT iced or cold) to gradually lower their body temperature at a safe rate.
  • If a fan is available, direct it towards the animal. Allow the animal to drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Take them to the nearest vet immediately – even if they seem to have made a full recovery. Better to be safe and get them properly checked.

Suggestions for keeping pets cool:

  • Do they have sun protection? Pets experience sunburn and heatstroke. Provide shade and other sun barriers whenever possible to reduce their overall sun exposure. Don’t forget the sunscreen! It’s a good idea to use a non-toxic, hypoallergenic sunscreen formulated specifically for use on pets.
  • Recognise the signs of heatstroke – This includes but not limited to: excessive panting, weakness, vomiting, lethargy and eventually unconsciousness and death. Ensure your pet has access to shade and clean water at all times.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day – Save long walks and runs for early morning or evening when the day (and ground) has had time to cool down. Their paws can actually be burnt from cement.
  • Don’t leave pets in hot cars – It only takes six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car. Additionally, if your pet travels on the back of a ute please do a touch test of the area first to ensure it won’t burn.
  • Spoil them with iced treats – There are fantastic recipes you can find online for icy and delicious treats for your pet. Rabbits, dogs and many other animals enjoy a cool treat.

And for wildlife:

  • Leave bowls of fresh, clean water out in shady locations. Shallow dishes are better for smaller animals.
  • If you use a large container make sure to provide a rock or stick so that small animal can climb out.
  • Place the container in an area where animals are protected from predators when drinking.

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