When your dog is riding in the car with you on a mildly warm day, it might seem safe to leave him in the car while you run inside for a quick errand.
However, this is often not the case.
The ASPCA's website said thousands of dogs die of heatstroke and suffocation in these situations each year – even in temperatures as low as the 70s or 80s.
Even when a car's windows are cracked, their internal temperatures rise quickly. On a 78 degree day, a parked car's temperature can rise to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, PETA's website said. On a 90 degree day, it can reach 160 degrees in fewer than 10 minutes.
Dogs can succumb to brain damage or heatstroke in just 15 minutes, PETA's website said.
This might sound extreme, but it's important to keep in mind dogs don't cool down like humans do – their physiology is totally different. The only place dogs sweat is their paws, and otherwise they can only drop their body temperatures by circulating cooler air through themselves by panting, PetMD's website said.
A dog with heatstroke will become restless, be excessively thirsty, have thick saliva, pant heavily, be lethargic, have little appetite, have a dark tongue, have an increased heart rate and lack coordination, PETA said. The dog could also vomit, have a fever and have bloody diarrhea. If you notice these symptoms, get the dog out of the heat and to a veterinarian immediately.
The ASPCA also advises soaking a dog with symptoms of heatstroke with cool (not ice cold) water before seeking veterinary care.
If you ever see a dog left alone in a car and fear the situation might be dangerous, PETA advises taking down the car's information and having the owner paged in the nearest buildings. Calling local humane authorities or police is another option, PETA said.