Newmarket, June 26, 2007 – With extreme heat alerts and humidex advisories currently being issued in parts of Ontario, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) would like to remind pet owners that high temperatures can be a serious danger to pets, and that it is their responsibility to ensure their pets are not left in situations that can easily cause severe distress or even death.

Pets left in parked cars or in other situations without protection from the sun and heat results in numerous deaths across the province every year.

Since dogs have only a limited ability to sweat, even a short time in a hot environment can be life-threatening. Temperatures inside a parked car can rapidly reach dangerous levels even on relatively mild days, and even if the car is parked in the shade with the windows slightly open. A dog's normal body temperature is about 39°C and a temperature of 41°C can be withstood only for a very short time before irreparable brain damage or even death can occur.

Pets left outdoors on hot summer days can also be in serious danger. Dogs should only be left outdoors for short periods, should have sufficient water and a cool, sheltered place out of direct sun. Walking during the early morning or evening when it is cooler is advisable.

If heatstroke is suspected (increased heart rate; excessive panting or drooling; listlessness; confusion or disorientation; bright red gums; vomiting or diarrhea; collapse, seizure or coma; body temperature higher than 40°C) prompt veterinary medical attention is vital. Immediately bring the pet into the shade and offer drinking water. Start cooling your dog down by wetting the fur with lukewarm to cool water (a wet towel works well), not cold water. Continue cooling your dog with wet towels during the drive to the veterinarian.

If you observe an animal suffering in the heat, contact your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated Humane Society or police. For Ontario SPCA Branch and affiliated Humane Society contact information call 1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722) or visit http://www.ontariospca.ca/.

To download the Ontario SPCA fact sheet, "Summertime Dangers," visit http://www.ontariospca.ca/4-carefactsheets-safety-5.shtml.