Dead in Minutes: Dogs and Heatstroke

Even very fit, athletic dogs can suffer heat-related illnesses during the sizzling days of summer.

Dogs with compromised health are at even greater risk.

Common sense strategies to protect your pup during a heat wave:

  • Keep him inside during the hottest part of the day
  • Scale back vigorous outdoor exercise
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, not even for a minute

If you see an animal left in someone else's parked car in the heat, notify a store employee right away.

If the pet's owner isn't located immediately, call animal control or the police. A dog can suffer permanent damage or death in a very short time when left in a parked vehicle on a hot day.



Dr. Becker's Comments:


The heat-related death of a beloved pet is a tragic, completely preventable situation.

There are no statistics on how many dogs die every year from heat exposure, because the majority of cases go unreported. But estimates are several hundred pets suffer this slow, agonizing and unnecessary fate every summer.

Police: Dog dies in hot car in Md.
A Labrador retriever has died after being left in a car during the heat wave
Frederick, Maryland

Update: Woman charged in dog's hot-car death

The loss of a dearly loved pet is difficult enough when death is expected and the passing is painless. But losing a canine member of the family to an avoidable case of heatstroke is an event many pet owners never forgive themselves for.


Leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle in extreme heat or cold is currently a criminal offense in 14 states and several municipalities. Most of the statutes have rescue provisions which allow certain individuals – for example police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, store employees -- to do whatever is necessary to rescue an animal trapped in a vehicle in extreme temperatures.

No matter where you live, if you see a pet confined in an unattended vehicle in extreme weather, I recommend you call law enforcement. Even if you don't live in one of the 14 states on the list, there could be other laws in your city and state that address this type of animal cruelty.



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