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Don't Leave Your Pet in a Parked Car

Copyright © 2002 HSUS/Kathy Milani

       Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 120° in a matter of minutes—even with the car windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation when trapped in high temperatures. This is what you should do if your pet is exposed to high temperatures:

  • Be alert for the signs of heat stress—heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.


  • If your pet becomes overheated, you must lower her body temperature immediately.
    Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over her body to gradually lower her temperature.
    Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck, and chest only.
    Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.


  • Finally, take your pet directly to a veterinarian—it could save her life.

        If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately!

       You don't just expose your pet to the dangers of heat stress when you leave her in a car, you also expose her to pet theft. Thousands of pets are stolen each year from unattended cars.

       Taking your pet for a ride may seem like fun, but many pets prefer to spend time with you in the comfort and safety of your home. Explore activities that you and your pet can share at home and avoid taking risks by leaving your pet in the car.

       If you must take your pet with you in your car, do so safely: Cats should ride in pet carriers, and dogs should ride in travel crates or be on a leash. When a pet travels, she should wear two ID tags—one with a home address and one with a destination address.

This Article: ©The Humane Society of the United States

Printed with permission