Seven show dogs left in van die of heat stroke

The loss of seven show dogs left in a van in Missouri this week is a reminder that vehicles can become death traps in hot weather in a matter of minutes.

Tragedy struck Monday when a handler left eight dogs in a van for several hours overnight, seven perished, likely from heat stroke, including the top female Akita in the nation. The surviving dog was suffering from kidney failure and it was uncertain whether she would live. For more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch click here

Pet owners should remember leaving an animal in a hot car is not only dangerous, it's also grounds for animal cruelty charges to be filed.

Here are tips from the American Kennel Club about how to recognize heat stroke and actions to take:

Early Stages:
Heavy panting.
Rapid breathing.
Excessive drooling.
Bright red gums and tongue.
Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:
White or blue gums.
Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
Labored, noisy breathing.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:
Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
Apply ice packs to the groin area.
Hose down with water.
Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.