Reminder: Don’t leave dogs in vehicles on even warm days

The summer heat has arrived and Park County Sheriff Scott Steward reminds residents it takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car—even for “just a minute”—while they run an errand.

“Most people do not realize how hot it can get in a parked car on a warm, summer day” commented Sheriff Steward. “On a 78 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees — and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun. Even when the outside air temperature is in the 60s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach the danger zone on bright, sunny days. Many experts recommend not leaving pets in parked cars even for short periods if the temperature is in the 60s or higher.”

Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn’t guarantee protection either, since temperatures can still climb into the danger zone. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads. Sheriff Steward recommends the following precautions to keep your pets safe in the hot summer months:

  • Leave your dog at home on warm days.
  • On trips with your pet, bring plenty of fresh drinking water and bowl.
  • Try not to let dogs ride loose in pick-up truck beds. The hot metal can burn a dog’s paws, the sun and flying debris can hurt the animal or it can accidentally be thrown out of the truck if the brakes are suddenly applied. The dog can also jump out if scared or upon seeing something interesting to chase. Instead, use a crate to create a safer space for the dog if you can’t fit the dog inside the truck cab.
  • Take the dog into the shade, an air conditioned area, or to the vet if you see signs of heat exhaustion, which include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness, or lack of coordination. To lower body temperature gradually, give the animal water to drink, place a cold towel or ice pack on the head, neck and chest, and/or immerse the dog in cool (not cold) water. Call your veterinarian.

Finally, it is a violation of Wyoming State Statute to leave a pet unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the animal. Summer is a time of family and fun.

Don’t take a chance with your pet’s safety.  One mistake can lead to tragedy.  For more information on how to keep your pets cool in the summer, contact your local veterinarian or refer to the Humane Society website at:

–Provided by the Park County Sheriff’s Office