Hot summer weather puts pets in peril when temps soar inside cars

By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection

Dogs left in cars are an all-too-common summertime sight in parking lots, and animal experts say it is both extremely dangerous for animals and could land their owners in hot water.

Courtney Thomas, president and chief executive of the Great Plains chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said animals can suffer heatstroke within minutes, as temperatures can soar inside a car, even with its windows cracked.

“The side effects of that can ultimately result in the death of the pet,” she said, “or other neurological and sometimes permanent situations can arise as well.”

Thomas warned that the perils for the pets may not always seem evident, but they should not be left for any length of time.

“You may park your car in what you believe to be the shade,” she said. “By the time you get out of the store, your dog or cat may be sitting in direct sunlight. You wouldn’t leave a human child in the car, and pet owners really shouldn’t do it with their pets, either.”

Signs of heatstroke in animals can include panting and seizures. Thomas said it’s critical to get an overheated animal to a veterinarian as quickly as possible, and to cool them down on the way with cold — but not icy — water and compresses.

Thomas said it is important to ensure that animals have plentiful access to water in the summer months, as their body temperatures naturally run high.

More tips on pets and heat are online at