“Never, ever, leave your pet in a parked car during warm weather”

dog in a carAs our temperatures soar in Stillwater and all of Minnesota, we should be aware of the danger of our pets overheating. Dr. Ernie Ward knows first hand about what it feels like for a pet to be left in a parked car during warm weather. In a recent YouTube video, Dr. Ward demonstrated the risk of leaving your pet in your car on a warm day. He spent 30 minutes in a car with  only the windows “cracked”.  This is what your pet or child experiences when you leave them for only a short time to run an errand.

With no breeze coming through the windows and 90 degree temperatures outside, Dr. Ward watched the thermometer rise to over 116 degrees as he became more and more uncomfortable and distressed. Imagine the helplessness your pet would feel in this situation. Please watch this video.  It is an eye opener.

Did you know that in many states, including Minnesota, it is against the law to leave a pet in a parked car if it is endangering the pet’s health or safety?

Every year we see dogs present to us with heat distress or heat stroke.  If they are lucky it is caught early and the dog will survive.  In many cases these dogs have had elevated body temperatures for so long, the effects are catastrophic, and the pet dies due to the devastating cascade of events that overheating has on the body.

I will never forget the golden retriever I treated about a year ago for heat stroke.  The dog was overweight and out of shape.  She was taken for a run on a warm day and collapsed. It took about an hour for them to bring her to the hospital.  By the time she arrived she was non-responsive and in tough shape.  With all of the effort, resources and hours of intensive care we could give, we were unable to save this dog. It was heartbreaking for the family and for us as veterinary professionals.

Please keep your pet safe during the heat of summer.  Only exercise your pet during the cooler hours of the day and please know your pet’s limits.  The effects of heat on your pet will be even worse if your dog or cat is overweight or out of shape. Have plenty of water available and keep them hydrated.

If your pet does become overheated, find a source of water to cool them down.  It is best not to use ice cold water when trying to reduce body temperature.  The cold water will cause the vessels of the skin to constrict making it more difficult to pet to reach a cooler body temperature. If your pet is suffering from overheating call your vet immediately.  It may be the difference between life and death.

If you suspect your pet is overheating, take its temperature.  Normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees F, Often pets that are over heated will reach temperatures in excess of 107 degrees.  Here is a link to help you with the steps you may need to save your pets life.

And remember “Never, ever, leave your pet in a parked car during warm weather.”

Thank you Dr. Ward!


Dr. Ginger Garlie             Dr. Ginger Garlie