One of the most avoidable pet-fatalities occurs when pets are left in cars. Whether you’re running into the grocery store or popping into the post office, it is never safe to leave an animal in a hot car unattended.
According to studies, hundreds of pets die from car-related heatstroke every year; studies also show the first 15-30 minutes are critical. Parked cars can become ovens fast. Even on a day a moderately warm day, a parked car can rise from 75˚F to 100˚F in just ten minutes. You may have heard of a “safe period”, the amount of time in which your pet can be left in a car. However, it is not prudent to follow a “safe period” since there are external factors that you can not control, such as the sun shifting. Since there are many factors as to why a car heats up, there’s not a safe amount of time to leave your pet.
Another thing to remember is your pet’s inability to sweat. You’ll need to keep in mind when you’re warm your animal is even warmer! Most dogs and cats are covered with a thick coat of fur making it difficult for them to dissipate their body heat. Warning signs that your pet is in distress include heavy panting, tongue hanging out, restlessness, anxiety, clawing at window, trembling, vomiting, disoriented, foaming at mouth, diarrhea, collapsing, and seizures.
What can you do if you see an animal trapped in a car that appears unsafe? The state of Minnesota prohibits leaving a dog or cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the dog's or cat's health or safety. For this reason, you can feel justified calling law enforcement. You could also wait nearby for a few minutes to see if the owner returns quickly.
All pets are at risk of developing heat stroke if left in a car, this can lead to severe illness or death. We urge you to recognize it is always your responsibility to keep your pet safe and spread awareness! Ultimately, the goal is to avoid the heartache of losing your pet’s life to a hot car.
Written by: Gracie Butler
Animal Care Foundation
Providing elderly and disabled community members access to veterinary care for their beloved pet.