It is a highly preventable problem that plagues the nation each summer, dogs being left in hot cars. Even when left for “just a minute”, parked cars become deathtraps for dogs. On a 78- degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar between 100 and 120 degrees in mere minutes. The interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes on a 90 degree day, even with the windows cracked.

In as little as 15 minutes, pets can sustain brain damage or die from a heat stroke after being left in a hot car. When humans get hot, we sweat and are able to cool down as our sweat dries, ridding us of the excess heat. Cooling off can be extra challenging for dogs since they are only able to cool themselves through panting and sweating through the pads on their paws. This becomes extra tough on humid days as the humidity interferes with the animal’s ability to rid themselves of excess heat.

Dogs cannot speak for themselves, it is important to be vigilant and keep an eye out for pets left in cars. If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, write down the color, make, model and license plate of the car and have the owner paged in all the surrounding stores. Also, be sure to call the humane authorities or the police. Keep an eye on the dog and do not leave the scene until everything has been resolved.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires swift action and veterinary attention. Use wet towels and water to cool the animal’s skin. The quicker the dog is seen by a veterinarian, the greater the chance of survival. Signs of heat stroke include: Panting, staring, anxious behavior, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and a dark tongue.

Heat stroke is extremely preventable. Leave your pet at home if they are not able to go in the store with you, then leave them at home. Dogs should not be left in the car, even for a “minute”. Heat stoke doesn’t only strike animals in cars. If you have an outdoor pet, be sure they have shelter from the heat and sun, along with adequate shade. Also be sure to have plenty of water available.