dog in car

Leaving a pet in the car for “just a few minutes” occurs to many. After all, there are places our pets cannot be and the long list of errands often has us running from one place to the next. But leaving a  pet in the car can spell trouble, especially during the winter and summer months. What would seem to be harmless causes hundreds of deaths in pets each year. 

The team at Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center is here to explain why both hot and cold weather outside are risky times to take your pet in the car and should absolutely be avoided.

Hyperthermia in Pets

Hyperthermia is a condition when the normal body temperature is raised. This occurs when a pet becomes overheated and the normal range for internal temperature raises above 103 degrees F/ 39C. In most cases, hyperthermia is caused by exposure to heat, but sometimes can be a result of toxicity, certain drugs, or a condition that prevents the body’s internal cooling mechanism to work properly.

When a pet is left in a car with the outside temperature even as cool as 70 degrees, the inside of the vehicle can heat to well over 100 degrees in minutes. Even with the window cracked and in the shade, vehicles heat up quickly due to heat absorption through the metal and grass. When a pet becomes overheated, this can lead to a life-threatening situation. Hyperthermia is serious and requires immediate veterinary treatment.

Symptoms of hyperthermia include:

  • Increased panting
  • Drooling
  • Dark maroon/red gums
  • Warm to the touch
  • Flushed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Racing heart
  • Black stool
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Collapse

When a pet is left in the car and starts to become overheated, these symptoms can come on quickly. This is why 28 of the United States have strict laws prohibiting pets from being left in cars unattended during warmer weather. Some of these even ban leaving a pet unattended in the car, no matter the temperature. That is how serious it is to leave a pet alone in a vehicle.

What About Cold Weather?

Cold weather is also a threat to your pet, even if in the car.. Hypothermia occurs when a pet’s internal temperature drops below 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and is an extremely dangerous condition. Never leave your pet in the car when the temperatures are below 50 degrees. 

Avoid the Risk by Never Leaving a Pet in the Car

There is really never any good reason to keep your pet in a parked car. Along with the dangers of hot or cold temperatures, pet theft is something that happens when a furry one is left unattended. Car break-ins have been increasingly reported with the sole object: to steal a pet, especially breeds that are in demand. 

When you know that you are running errands, simply keep your pet at home unless the places you are going are pet friendly. While most pets love to go with us anywhere, the dangers of taking them and leaving them alone for any time outweigh any benefits of bringing them along.

For more information about the risks of leaving a pet in the car, please do not hesitate to call us