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Published: May 03, 2012

Although the weather has just recently warmed up, temperatures are high enough to make cars an unsafe place for unattended dogs. That is the message Oklahoma officials are conveying to residents to prevent heat-related deaths of children and pets this year, Tulsa World reports.

Leaving a dog in the car while you run into a store quickly may not seem like a serious issue, but the temperature inside a car can climb up to 30 degrees warmer than the temperature outside in as little as 20 minutes, the news outlet reports.

"If you get out of the car, the dog gets out of the car," advises veterinarian Paul Welch, according to the news outlet.

It is important to remember that because dogs cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating like humans can, they can only pant to cool off, VCA Animal Hospitals reports. Heat stroke can lead to organ failure and death, so it is important to remember this when traveling with your dog.

The most common cause of heat stroke in dogs is being left in the car without adequate ventilation, VCA reports. A dog suffering from heat stroke should be treated using cool cloths to lower the body temperature. You should bring your canine to an animal hospital for safe, controlled reduction of its body temperature and to see if further treatment is needed.