With summer's first heat wave bringing sweltering temperatures to Vancouver, animal welfare advocates are reminding pet owners not to leave their animals in their cars.

Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the BC SPCA, has been asking owners for 14 years to leave their pets at home instead of letting them roast in hot cars. She hopes this summer she'll see a change in behaviour.

"Dogs don't sweat the same way we do as humans. They don't cool off the same way," she told CTV News. "On the mild end it can be extremely stressful for an animal to be left in a hot car, and on the extreme end deadly."

Dogs have no sweat glands, so the only ways they can cool themselves off are by panting and releasing heat through their paws. Dogs can only withstand hot temperatures for a short time—sometimes just minutes—before suffering irreparable brain damage, according to a release from the BC SPCA.

Even with the windows cracked open, the temperature in a parked car can climb over to over 38 C in under 10 minutes.

Moriarty says pet owners should never leave their animals in a car—not even when running a short errand.

"Rarely do we run an errand and it actually takes two minutes," she said.

If you do see a pet trapped in a car that appears to be in distress, Moriarty advises to approach the situation logically. For example, if you find a dog in a car in a grocery store parking lot Moriarty says the fastest way to help the animal is to go inside the store and page the owner.

If there's no way to bring the owner to unlock the car, then Moriarty says it's time to call the BC SPCA cruelty hotline. The hotline operates during the daytime on weekdays and weekends. Outside of those hours, people concerned for animals at risk of heat stroke can call 911.

It's illegal for members of the public to break a window to get inside the vehicle themselves—only RCMP and special BC SPCA Constables can do that.

Once the dog is out of the vehicle, the BC SPCA says the best ways to cool it down are to move it to a shady place, wet the dog with cool water and fan the animal. Applying ice, counterintuitively, might make things worse. The ice will constrict blood flow, which will slow down cooling.