KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dogs left in cars in parking lots are an all-too-common summertime sight, 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 SPCA, said animals can suffer heatstroke within minutes because 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.”
Signs of heatstroke in animals can include panting, bloody diarrhea and seizures. Thomas said it’s critical to get an overheated animal to the veterinarian as quickly as possible, and to attempt to cool them down on the way with cold – but not icy – water and compresses.
Thomas said laws vary from one municipality to another, and in many parts of the state it is illegal to leave a pet in the car for any length of time.
“You may park your car in what you believe to be the shade,” she said, but “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.”
Thomas said it is important to ensure animals have plentiful access to water in the summer months, since their body temperatures naturally run high. They are susceptible to heat-related issues, even when left outside at home or out walking in the hot weather.