Leaving pets in hot cars with windows down not as safe as you think

On hot days, most pet owners already know it's not safe to keep pets in a car with the windows up, even if it's just for five minutes.

This includes Linda Harton. She owns a Shih Tzu named Whiskey, and she knows how to keep him safe during the extreme heat.

"If he's outside, then I'm with him. So, I watch the heat and make sure he has cold water," Harton said.

Thursday, Harton had to run a quick errand at the post office. She left Whiskey in the car with the windows rolled down, because she knew she wouldn't be gone for more than five minutes.

However, the heat is just as dangerous for pets when you leave them in the car with the windows down.

"For the most part, there really is no difference as far as the pets' health in the car whether the windows are down or up. Their body temp is going to escalate along with the outdoor temperature," Dr. Kevin Kristick, a veterinarian at Carolina Forest Veterinary Services.

Typically, on an 80 degree day, Kristick said temperatures inside a car could exceed 120 degrees. The temperature inside cars only increase as the outside temperature rises.

This is one reason why Kristick discourages people from leaving their pets inside a car for even a five minute errand.

"I just don't feel that it's justifiable. Even just after a few minutes, it can cause life threatening issues and i really feel you should treat them as your child," Kristick said.

If you have to bring a pet along on an errand, Kristick encourages people to keep pets in air conditioned cars with the windows up.