The dangers of leaving pets in hot, parked cars

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 5:28 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - It’s getting hot outside, and that heat can pose a danger to your pets—especially when they are left inside a parked car.

The effects can get serious quickly.

“Your pet can rapidly develop heatstroke,” said Veterinarian of the Human Society of Portage County Dr. Kim Peacock

You may just be heading into the store for a few minutes and think it’s okay to leave your pet in the car. The line gets long, you see another item you want to buy, and those few minutes turn into 15 minutes. That can be lethal.

“Their heart rate is going to be super fast. And sometimes you can feel it, and if they’re a thin enough dog you can see it,” said Dr. Jamie Gifford, a veterinarian at the Wausau Animal Hospital

The heat of a parked car can cause a multitude of issues in your pet. Cardiac arrhythmia, brain swelling, and kidney damage. It can cause complete organ failure.

According to Dr. Peacock, 50 to 56 percent of animals that go into the hospital because of heatstroke die. And it can only take a few minutes for the temperature to rise.

“The car starts heating up quite rapidly and certainly within 10 minutes it can be quite hot in there,” Dr. Peacock said.

According to the American Medical Veterinary Association, within 10 minutes, the temperature can rise 20 degrees. That’s even on a 70-degree day. In 20 minutes, it can rise to 30 degrees.

Sherri Galle Teske, the executive director of the Humane Society of Portage County, says they see at least 3-4 calls a month.

“I have anxiety over it,” Teske said.

Some times a window is cracked when pets are left in cars. That doesn’t help.

“They get fresh air but it really does cool them down adequately,” Dr. Peacock said

“It doesn’t matter if you think there’s going to be a breeze or not, the heat just builds up,” explained Dr. Gifford.

We put a thermometer in the car for 20 minutes with the windows closed and the temperature reached 118 degrees.

We were unable to get data about how many calls the Wausau Police receive, but the Marathon County Human Society says they hear it happen often. the consensus was to leave your pet at home on hot days like this. It’s not worth the risk.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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