Dog owners have been sent a stern warning — make this life-threatening mistake and not only could you lose your pet, but you could also be left with a $15,000 vet bill.
As soon as the hot weather hit in November last year, Pet Insurance Australia (PIA) noted a tenfold increase in the number of heatstroke-related claims by policyholders, in comparison to the winter months, as more dogs were left in hot cars. While the average amount claimed for heatstroke-related conditions over the last two years is $1,707, the highest claim benefit paid to a Pet Insurance Australia customer was $15,000.
“It happens around this time every year when we just see a huge increase in heatstroke claims that come through,” Nadia Crighton from PIA told Yahoo News Australia. “I think it's really important for people to remember that our pets can't regulate their body temperatures as much as we can, and if anybody sits in a hot car and just cracks the windows, even if it's not a hot day, try to sit in it for five minutes and it becomes unbearable.
She added that while humans are quite good at regulating their body temperature, pets aren’t. “There’s also a lot of dogs around at the moment that are very popular breeds, like a French Bulldog and pug, that fall into that brachycephalic breed characteristics, so they’ve got the pushed in faces. Those dogs simply cannot cope with the heat and so their risk of heatstroke is a lot higher than your average dog that has a nice long nose.”
How do you get to $15K?
When a dog overheats, it can get quite serious quite quickly, said Nadia, because all of their internal organs start to break down very quickly.
“So there will be treatments for heatstroke, whether it be intravenous fluids, veterinary monitoring and things like that, and it could include certain medication,” she explained. “It depends how bad the heatstroke is.”
That’s why people need to act fast if they notice any symptoms of heatstroke in their pet.
“The best thing to do is to call your veterinary clinic immediately, speak to the vet nurse and let them know the symptoms that your dog is showing, such as excessive panting, drooling and pacing, while some pets can actually go into seizures,” Nadia said. “Get straight on the phone to your local veterinary clinic.”
Dog photographed inside hot car
The warning comes just a day after a dog was left in a ute in the Greater Sydney region. In a series of photos shared on social media, the pet can be seen lying on the front seat of a vehicle parked outside Campbelltown Hospital on Thursday. The person who took the shots said “police have been notified” while Facebook users criticised the owner for leaving their dog behind.
“What is wrong with some people, it’s so hot today,” one person wrote. “That is shocking," another said.
However others insisted that the owner had done the right thing by winding down the window, and that the dog looked well and “chill”.
Misconception about dogs in cars
But Nadia argued that cracking the window makes “no difference”. “If you're going to crack the window, you might as well leave it up because studies have shown it makes no difference to the temperature in your vehicle,” she said.
And as for suggestions that the owner had just popped out for five minutes and would be back soon, Nadia insisted that it’s not worth the risk.
“Let's be honest, every time you think, ‘I'm only going to be five minutes’, you bump into people you know,” she said. “So that five minutes can turn into 10 minutes and within 10 minutes your car could be at a range where it's completely unbearable.
“That's why it's so important to get the message out there. If you can't take your dog with you, leave them at home.
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