Leaving Pets or Kids in Cars can be Fatal

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - 10:15am

Car Temperatures can Increase very Quickly to Dangerous Levels

Changing seasons always raise the need to remind ourselves about conditions we haven't seen in awhile. The arrival of summer-like weather should remind us to never leave children or pets in a car.

For example, when the window is "cracked" and it is 93 degrees outside, the inside of the car can exceed 125 degrees in about 20 minutes and 140 degrees in about 40 minutes. This can be deadly because a child's body temperature increases 3-5 times faster than an adult's. At these temperatures, a child or a pet can suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke in a matter of minutes.
Signs of heatstroke in people include hot, dry skin (no sweating), chills, throbbing headache and high body temperature. Signs of heat stress with animals include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, dizziness, vomiting and a deep red or purple tongue. Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency for kids and adults, so call 911. Pets with these symptoms should be taken to a vet (or emergency animal clinic) as soon as possible.
It is neither safe nor environmentally healthy to leave a child or animal in a car with the air conditioner running since an engine stall would quickly create unsafe conditions.
The best protection from this risk is simply to NEVER LEAVE A CHILD OR A PET IN A VEHICLE. There are penalties and devastating emotional costs for leaving a child or an animal in a car. On hot or warm days, it's best to leave your pet at home, and to always take your child with you - no matter how short you think your errand will be.
If you see a parked car with a child left alone, call 911 and stay with the car. If you see a pet left alone, also call 911.
According to Animal Services almost all cases of animals found in cars are in the parking lots of malls or large retail stores.
For more information on the impact of heat on people, check the following links:


For more information on heatstroke in animals, check the following link:


Public Health Madison & Dane County


  • Patrick Comfert, Animal Services(608) 243-0309
  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302