LOS ANGELES - It's summer again and as temperatures warm up, pet owners need to remember not to leave their dogs in hot cars.
Each year, dozens of dogs die because their owner left them for only a few minutes in a vehicle outside. Animal organizations, such as the ASPCA and PETA, are reminding owners that temperatures can rise by as much as 20 degrees in a vehicle in less than 10 minutes.
In that short amount of time, dogs can suffer heatstroke, sustain brain damage and even die. Cracking the windows does little to relieve the heat building up inside a car.
The American Veterinary Medical Association provided a chart showing how hot it can get inside a vehicle depending on the temperatures outside. Even at 70 degrees, a vehicle can hit nearly 100 degrees in 10 minutes.
Dogs can overheat easily, especially because they have fur that can trap in more of the heat. When they begin to get hot, dogs start panting in an effort to lose the warmth through the mucous membranes in their mouth and nose. They may even lick their body to cool it by evaporation, according to Quartz.
A dog's average internal temperature is 105.2 degrees and if it reaches 111 degrees, their circulation begins to fail and it can cause kidney failure, brain damage and internal bleeding. If your pet reaches this point, it's unlikely the damage can be reversed.
Pet organizations and the AVMA urge pet owners to keep their pets cool during hot months by making sure they have a shady and well-ventilated spot with access to water at home.
Owners are also urged to walk their pets in the early morning or evening hours when temperatures are much lower. But you should check the concrete with your hand before your pet walks as it might still be too hot for them to walk on.
If you see your dog starting to overheat by panting or breathing loudly, licking his or her flanks, walking unsteadily or collapsing, get a wet towel and drape it over their back. You can even wet their backs and sides as a way to cool by evaporation.
If your dog suffers heatstroke, organizations say to call a veterinarian immediately.
ASPCA and other groups also ask people to call the police if they see a dog stuck in a hot car.