Pets & Cars: Heat Warning

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It goes without saying that summer in the Las Vegas area is hot. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees daily, we’re constantly reminded to stay cool and hydrated. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, severe dehydration, and other health risks climb with the temperatures.  The same thing goes for animals.  You wouldn’t want to sit in a locked car baking in the sun, not even for five minutes, and neither does your pet.


Studies show that even at 70F outside, the temperature in your car can rise swiftly to over 100F.  And the longer your car is out, the hotter it gets.  For example, if it’s 95F outside (cool for Vegas), within 10 minutes it can rise to over 114F.  20 minutes, and the temperature in your car is nearly 125F.  An hour, and it can climb to 140F, and it doesn’t stop.


Don’t Leave Your Pets in Hot Cars


Leaving your pets in the car, even for five minutes while you ‘run into the store’ can be incredibly dangerous. They can suffer brain damage or die of heatstroke in under 15 minutes if locked in a hot car.  Dogs, cats, and other animals don’t sweat except through their paws, and can only cool themselves by panting. When temperatures climb, there’s no way for pets to cool themselves.  




If you see a dog in a hot car with any or all of the following symptoms, they might be suffering from heatstroke.


  • Restlessness

  • Dark tongue

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of coordination

  • Thick saliva

  • Lethargy

  • Excessive thirst

  • Heavy panting

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Lack of appetite


What to Do If You See a Pet in a Locked Car


If you see an animal in a car on a hot day, there are steps you can take to help.


  1. Write down the car’s make, model, and license plate number.

  2. Alert nearby businesses, managers, or security guards and ask them to page the owner of the vehicle.

  3. If the owner does not return or cannot be found, call the nonemergency number of local animal control or police.

  4. Stay with the animal until emergency services arrive.


Nevada Law


As of 2017, it is now a crime in Nevada to leave an animal in a hot, locked car. Senate Bill 409 stipulates that if convicted, the person responsible can face up to 6 months in prison or a $1,000 fine.  The law states, “ a person shall not allow a cat or dog to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle during a period of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.”


In Nevada, the following people are allowed to break into a hot car with an animal inside, using “force that is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances .”


  • Peace officer

  • Officer of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals who is authorized to make arrests

  • Animal Control Officer

  • Governmental officer or employee whose primary duty is to ensure public safety

  • Employee/volunteer of the fire department

  • Member of search and rescue organization under direct supervision of a sheriff



Assisting the Animal


Once the animal is out of the car, you can take the following steps to help:

  • Provide water to drink

  • Apply cool, wet towels to groin, chest, stomach, and paws

  • If possible, immerse or hose the animal (gently) with cool (not cold!) water to bring down body temperature

  • Position the animal in front of an electric fan

  • Get the animal inside somewhere air conditioned

Remember, even when it’s cool outside, outdoor temperatures of even 70F can reach over 100F in your car within an hour.  If you need to run errands in extreme temperatures, leave your dog at home.
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