Heatstroke

What are the signs of heatstroke?

  • Heavy panting (or sudden stopping of panting)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weakness or muscle tremors
  • Convulsions or vomiting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Unconsciousness

If my animal shows signs of heatstroke, what should I do?

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady, or air-conditioned place
  • Wet the dog with cool (not cold) water
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water, or lick ice cubes
  • Transport the dog to a veterinarian as soon as it’s safe to do so
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Is it too hot today?

Each year the OHS takes hundreds of calls about dogs left in vehicles on hot summer days. When the thermometer soars, a parked car can quickly become a furnace, endangering an animal’s life, and making the owner liable to criminal charges.

When is it too hot?

When a heat advisory is issued, it applies to animals as well. Even on a relatively mild day, temperatures in parked cars can become dangerous in a matter of minutes. Opening or lowering the windows does little or nothing to slow this process.

With only hot air to breathe, a dog’s normal cooling process – panting – doesn’t work. A dog can withstand internal body temperatures of 40°C for only a few minutes before brain damage or death can occur. The older or more vulnerable the animal, the more susceptible they are to heatstroke or something worse.

If you see an animal that may be suffering from heat exhaustion, and the owner can’t be quickly located, enlist the help of a parking attendant, security guard or nearby police officer, or call the OHS at 613-725-1532.

When calling to report an animal in a hot car, please provide the following information:

  • Caller’s name and phone number
  • How long has the caller seen the vehicle parked there?
  • Get the EXACT location of the vehicle
  • Get the make, model and colour of the vehicle
  • Get the license plate number
  • Are the windows up or down?
  • Is the vehicle parked in the sun or shade?
  • Is the vehicle running?
  • Is the dog sitting or laying down?
  • Is the dog panting?
  • Can the caller knock on the window? How does the dog react?
  • What type of dog is it? What does it look like?
  • Where is the dog in the vehicle?
  • Is there water in the vehicle for the dog?

What’s the legislation involved?

It is against the law to leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the animal. Under the Ontario SPCA Act, OSPCA investigators have the authority of a police officer when enforcing those laws pertaining to animals. The Act permits the investigator to issue a written order to the owner of the animal or to take the necessary steps to relieve the animal from distress. Non-compliance of an OSPCA order may result in the animal being removed from private property (including parked vehicles).

What’s the solution?

You may think it’s fun to take your dog along when you run errands, but a hot car is no place for a pet. When it’s hot, keep your dog at home, with access to shade and lots of fresh water.

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