Brain damage, pain and suffering, even death due to heatstroke or suffocation — these are some of the tragic results of a pet being left inside a hot car for even a short period of time. Unfortunately, every year, thousands of beloved pets like dogs and cats fall victim or die from such hot weather-related conditions due to the ignorance or poor judgment by a pet parent.

Let’s look at some facts from PETA showing how parked hot cars are pet deathtraps. It may be 78 degrees outside, but the temperature inside a parked car can climb at a fast rate to between 100 and 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. In less than 10 minutes, a 90 degree day can actually have an interior temperature as high as 160 degrees.

Think cracking a window is sufficient enough to keep pets safe? Think again. Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do. Dogs stay cool by panting and releasing heat through their paw pads, cats sweat only from their paws.

To see what it is like to be helplessly trapped in a hot car, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward conducted an experiment. For 30 minutes, he sat in his parked car with the windows cracked and watched as the thermostat quickly climbed to 116 degrees. With his video camera rolling, the doctor described how he was feeling physically and mentally, how the air in the car was still even though the windows were slightly cracked open, and the fact that he began to sweat heavily after just a few minutes in the hot car. Dr. Ward was well aware of what was going on. Now, image the panic and distress a helpless pet must feel in an uncontrolled environment.

How to Prevent Your Pet From Suffering in a Hot Car

  • Do not take pets with you to run errands. Sparky may enjoy a fun car ride, but leaving him in the car while you go into the store for even 15 minutes on a hot day could turn deadly.
  • If you must take a pet with you somewhere, take them inside the store or building with you. Call ahead to make sure pets are allowed inside the establishment. If not, reconsider bringing them with you.
  • Have another person with you to stay in the car with pets while you run errands. They can keep pets company and petsit right there in the car … or simply leave them at home!

What to Do if You Discover Someone Else’s Pet Locked in a Hot Car

  • Write down the make, model, and license plate and immediately notify the nearby businesses. Management will make an announcement over the loudspeaker to help locate the owner of the car. Go back to the vehicle and stay with the pet until someone or help comes.
  • If your intuition is screaming, don’t take any chances. If you see a dog or other animal left alone and in distress in a hot vehicle, call 911 or animal control immediately. Remain with the pet and vehicle until help arrives.
  • If the authorities are taking too long to respond and the animal’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find witnesses willing to back your reasoning and do what you need to do to remove the suffering animal from the vehicle. This could mean having to break a window.

Life Saving Actions to Take

  • A dog frantically scratching at the window to get out or making distressing sounds are big indicators of heat stress. More signs: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, disorientation, excessive drooling, vomiting, seizures, or a deep red or purple tongue.
  • As soon as a pet is removed from the hot car, immediately take them indoors where there is air conditioning to lower the body temperature.
  • Place cool, wet towels under arm-leg pits, the groin area and the back of the neck. Or soak the pet in a cool (not cold) bath making sure their head stays above water.
  • See if the animal can drink water.
  • If police or animal control is not present to do so, you need to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

No animal deserves to suffer trapped in the sweltering heat of a big metal oven on wheels with no way to save itself; this is animal neglect and cruelty. It’s a fate ranging from incredible panic and torturous pain to permanent brain damage or even death.

Sign The Animal Rescue Site’s pledge today and help keep pets and other animals safe during the warm season. By signing, you agree to remain aware of the dangers of pets being left in unattended hot vehicles, whether your companion pet or someone else’s.

Image source: Gilad Rom/Flickr