Leaving Pets In Hot Cars

Jun 21, 2014

What NOT to do!
Credit Just chaos (Jean) [Flickr]

The most common cause of heat stroke in a pet is leaving it in a parked car on a warm (not necessarily hot) day.  If it's too hot for you to sit in a closed car (or one with the windows slightly cracked), it's too hot for your furry friend.


local woman was arrested this week after the Grand Jury handed down a felony indictment for aggravated animal cruelty. She is accused of killing her neighbor’s two cats by leaving them in a hot closed car last August. They died of apparent heat exhaustion. If convicted, the woman could be sentenced to as much as ten years in prison.

The truth is that any animal left in a closed car on a warm day is in jeopardy. Every year pets die after being left confined in a car, often by caring owners who think they will be gone for only a few minutes.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, on a mild 85-degree day the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in just ten minutes, even with the windows slightly open, even if the car is parked in the shade. The temperature will climb to 120 degrees within 30 minutes. On warmer days the temperature will rise higher and faster.

Some folks try to leave the air conditioner running thinking that will ensure their pets’ safety, but if the engine dies while you’re away your pet is trapped in a vehicle that quickly becomes an oven.

Pets cool themselves by panting, which removes heat from their body as moisture from their lungs evaporates. If the air around a pet is overheated or too humid, the animal’s body temperature rises. If it’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees, that’s heat-stroke territory. Anything in excess of 106 degrees is considered a severe heat stroke which could lead to permanent brain damage and even death; immediate veterinary attention is required for an animal that experiences severe heat stroke.

Never leave an animal alone in a closed car, even with the windows cracked, even with the engine running, even if you think it will only be a minute. If you have to make a stop or run an errand, either take someone with you that can stay with your pet, or leave it safely at home.

Putting your best friend’s life at risk is just not worth it, especially for the sake of convenience, when you’re speaking of pets.