The dangers of leaving your pet in a hot, parked car
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[August 11, 2014]
LINCOLN - With the summer months upon
us, pet travel is at it's height and it's time for a reminder about
the dangers of leaving your pet in a parked car. Whether you're
parking in the shade, just running into the store, or leaving the
windows cracked, it is still NOT ok to leave your pet in a parked
The temperature inside a car can skyrocket after just a few
minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does
very little to alleviate this pressure cooker.
On a warm, sunny day try turning your car off, cracking your windows
and sitting there. It will only be a few short minutes before it
becomes unbearable. Imagine how your helpless pet will feel. On an
85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the
windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within only ten minutes. After
30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees,
pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the
temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30
degrees per minute, and quickly become lethal.
Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study to measure
the temperature rise inside a parked car on sunny days with highs
ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F. Their results showed that a car's
interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour,
regardless of ambient temperature. Ambient temperature doesn't
matter - it's whether it's sunny out. Eighty percent of the
temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour. Even on a
relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly
spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out.
Further, the researchers noted that much like the sun warms a
greenhouse in winter; it also warms a parked car on cool days. In
both cases, the sun heats up a mass of air trapped under glass.
Precautions such as cracking a window or running the air conditioner
prior to parking the car were found to be inadequate.
"If more people knew the danger of leaving their pets in their
parked car, they wouldn't do it," states Kim Salerno,
TripsWithPets.com President & Founder. "Pets are very susceptible to
overheating as they are much less efficient at cooling themselves
than people are" adds Salerno. The solution is simple - leave your
pets at home if the place you are going does not allow pets.
Dogs are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist
on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling
during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if
they only have hot air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ
damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, young pets,
seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other
health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.
Signs of heat stress include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a
rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red
or purple tongue. If a pet becomes overheated, immediately lowering
their body temperature is a must.
- Move the pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water
all over their body to gradually lower their temperature.
- Apply ice packs or cool towels to the pet's head, neck and
- Allow the pet to drink small amounts of cool water or lick
- Then take the pet to the nearest vet.
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Animal Services Officers or other law enforcement officers are
authorized to remove any animal left in an unattended vehicle that
is exhibiting signs of heat stress by using the amount of force
necessary to remove the animal, and shall not be liable for any
damages reasonably related to the removal. The pet owner may be
charged with animal cruelty.
Creating greater awareness is the key
to preventing pets from this unnecessary suffering.
TripsWithPets.com offers some tips to help spread the word:
- A good start is to let friends know about the dangers of
leaving their pets in a parked car and remind them to keep their
pets at home on warm sunny days if they'll be going anywhere
pets are not allowed.
- The Humane Society of the United States has posters
available for a nominal fee that store managers can post inside
their windows to remind shoppers that "Leaving Your Pet in a
Parked Car Can Be a Deadly Mistake." They also have similar hot
- Get involved. If you see a pet in a parked car during a warm
sunny day, go to the nearest store and have the owner paged.
Enlist the help of a local police officer or security guard or
call the local police department or animal control office.
Note: it is against the law for a citizen to break into a
vehicle to rescue a pet. If the owner can not be located,
do not take matters into your own hands. Call authorities.
[Text received; TRIPS WITH PETS]
the #1 online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel
site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to
offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe
while traveling. The website features a directory of pet
friendly hotels and accommodations across the United States
and Canada, as well as airline & car rental pet policies; pet
friendly restaurants, beaches, and events; a user-friendly route
travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel