Warm weather means spending quality time outdoors with your furry, four-legged friend, but for some dogs and other pets, summer can also mean suffering in a hot car. You might just be running a quick errand, but the temperature inside your car can heat up quicker than you think, whether outdoor temperatures are stifling hot or moderately warm.
According to a study by San Francisco State University, temperatures in a closed vehicle can rise about 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. In a similar study, the Animal Protection Institute (API) found that with an outdoor morning temperature of 82 degrees, the temperature inside a closed car rose to 109 degrees and increased to 124 by the afternoon. Even with all four windows cracked, temperatures inside the vehicle still rose over a 100 degrees.
While you might be able to handle the heat, animals are more susceptible to hyperthermia and can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in as little as 15 minutes. Beating the heat is particularly difficult for dogs, which can only cool down by panting and sweating through their paws.
Not only is leaving your pet trapped in a car dangerous and cruel, but it’s illegal in 14 states. While the types of animals and the conditions in which the animal is left vary, most laws prohibit leaving an animal confined or unattended in a parked or stationary car in conditions that endanger the animal’s life, such as extreme hot or cold temperatures or lack of adequate ventilation. Violating these laws can result in a fine and even jail time.
If you plan on leaving your car parked and unattended, even for “just a minute,” let your pet tag along with you on your errand. If that’s not possible, leave your pet at home or with a trustworthy pet sitter. If you see a dog or other animal left alone in a parked car, call the local humane authorities or police and stay at the scene until the situation has been handled.
For more tips on keeping your pet cool during the long, hot days of summer, check out the ASPCA’s “Hot Weather Tips.”