The Dangers of Leaving Your Pet in the Car

Summer has finally arrived! With the nice weather, it’s seems like a great idea to take your dogs with you to run your errands and enjoy the beautiful weather. However, while it may be tempting to leave your animal in the car, even for a minute, we urge you not to. In just a matter of minutes, the interior temperature of a car can increase to damaging and deadly temperatures. Every year, we hear of more and more cases of pets and children being left in hot cars where they quickly succumb to the hot temps. For example, on a 78 degree day, the interior temperature of a car can rise to over 90 degrees in just 10 minutes.

Presently, 28 states have laws safeguarding animals that could be left in cars. In states that don’t have these laws, many cities have enacted their own similar laws. According to PETA, animals can sustain brain damage and even death from high temperatures in just 15 minutes. Most commonly, it is dogs that are left in cars. The heat is especially difficult for them because they do not sweat. It is always best to delay your errand or make sure that you can take your animal home, rather than putting them at risk by leaving them in a car on a summer day.

What should you do if you see a dog or other animal left in a hot car? You should take down the information of the vehicle and the dog and try paging the owner in the local businesses, while someone keeps an eye on the animal. If you are not able to find the owner, you may call the authorities or local humane organizations.

Keep an eye on the animal for signs of distress or imminent danger. In the event that you are not able to find the pet’s owner, and the local authorities response time is taking too long, you may be able to free the animal by checking the vehicle’s doors or breaking a window. However, be sure to find a witness, or several, to be able to corroborate your story and the situation. Many states and local governments have Good Samaritan laws in place that will protect you in this event.

Signs of distress can include: restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, and more. If an animal is showing any of these symptoms, they need to be removed immediately, placed in air conditioning, and taken to a veterinary clinic.

If you cannot get them to a vet, you can cool the animal down by: providing water to drink, spraying them with water or placing in a cool bath, applying cool compresses, or placing in front of a fan. Be sure to not use ice water as this can cause additional distress by lowering their body temperature too quickly and overcool the animal.

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to provide the best care for your animal. If the weather or your schedule is questionable, it is always best to leave your animal in the safest possible environment, which may mean leaving them at home. In the event that you are taking your animal with you, be sure to research your state or local laws regarding leaving animals in cars; and, find ways that you can help keep them safe and cool when you take them with you.