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Animal Services

HEAT HAZARD FOR DOGS LEFT IN HOT CARS

Every summer Animal Services receives 100's of calls about dogs left in the car on hot days. Well meaning pet owners take their dog with them on a trip to the store, the doctor, the mall, to visit friends, or even the movie theater. Owners leave their dog in the car with the windows cracked open and think to themselves that they will be back in a short time before it gets too hot.

This can be a big, and sometimes for the dog, a fatal mistake. Temperatures inside a closed up car (even with windows cracked open) can reach 100+ degrees in as few as 15 minutes. Dogs stay cool by panting and expelling excess heat through their tongue into the surrounding air. For this to work, the air has to be cooler than the dog. A dog's normal body temperature is 101 degrees. Humid air dispels less heat then dry air. If the air is humid, as it can be in summer, especially in a closed car with a panting dog, the dog can overheat and suffer heat stress or heat stroke very quickly.

Beside the very real possibility of killing your dog by leaving it in a hot car, you also run the risk of receiving a $429.00 citation. If either Animal Services or the Police Department are called to check on a dog in hot car and find the dog to be suffering signs of heat stress, they may enter the car, remove the dog, and issue the owner a citation for animal cruelty.

It's not a pleasant experience for owner or dog. The owner takes their beloved doggie companion to the store with them. They park partly in the shade, crack the car windows a bit and go into the store (thinking I will only be a few minutes). The owner buys a few more things than they thought they would, they bump into an old friend or neighbor in the produce aisle and talk a while. A few minutes turns into half an hour.

While they are gone the air gets hotter and hotter in the car. The sun moves and soon the car is in full sun. The dog pants as hard as he can trying to cool his body down. The more he pants, the more humid the air in the car gets and the dog gets hotter and hotter. The dog whines and scratches at the door, and he looks out the window for his beloved owner to come rescue him from his discomfort. As his body temperature rises and he realizes he is danger of dying, he tries to hide under the seat for shade. Failing this, he digs frantically at the floor of the car or the seat trying to tunnel his way out of what has now become an oven. As his temperature builds to a fatal level, his organs start to suffer damage, and his brain starts to boil. His actions become uncoordinated, until he falls over and goes into seizures. His organs fail, his brain is cooked and he voids his bladder and his bowels and dies, a horrible lingering and very stressful death. The owner comes out of the store to find a torn up car and his best canine friend dead in a puddle of his own waste.

Animal Services knows you love your dog and want him with you at all times. We ask that you love him enough to leave him at home on hot summer days.
City Of Madison Animal Care References
Key Contacts
  • Animal Services Office:
    (608) 267-1989
  • Animal Services Officer Dispatch:
    (608) 255-2345
  • Dane County Humane Society:
    (608) 838-0413
  • Emergency Clinic for Animals:
    (608) 274-7772