After controversy over a viral Facebook post showing a dog left outside in Bradley County, veterinarians are hoping to educate all dog owners about keeping pets safe in this heat.

The heat index nearly reached 100 degrees on Thursday. Vets claim that's hot enough to kill your pet if you leave it outside.

Your pet could have a stroke if you don't give it enough water or a shady spot to cool off. In some cases, owners could be breaking the law.

Dogs like Mayer have a second chance at life at McKamey Animal Center. He was rescued from owners who left him outside to suffer under the hot sun.

"These dogs have to feel like they're suffocating," explained veterinarian Candace Robertson.

Robertson wants dog owners to understand how the heat can kill your pet.

"Dogs also do not sweat like humans," she explained. "Dogs only have sweat glands on their feet."

Robertson said the only other way dogs can cool down is by panting. In direct sunlight, they can easily overheat and have a stroke.

"It can start as a mild discomfort, where they're just really uncomfortable, panting and breathing hard," she explained. "Then, it can progress rapidly, to basically passing out; comatose."

In serious cases, it can result in permanent neurological damage, heart failure, and death, said Robertson.

"Sometimes, education is needed," said Jamie McAloon, Executive Director of McKamey Animal Center.

State law requires all dog owners to provide their dogs with adequate food, water and shelter. For owners who leave their dogs outside, that means constant access to the shade.

"Often, we deal with a lot of people that do not recognize what they're doing as neglect or harmful to their pets," said McAloon.

A Bradley County couple received backlash after a Facebook post went viral, showing their dog crated outside in the sun.

Although the Sheriff's Office determined the owners did not break any laws, animal advocates encourage people to stay on the lookout all summer long.

"Even if an animal is OK an hour later," said McAloon, "it doesn't erase the fact that it was suffering an hour earlier."

If you suspect a case of animal neglect in your neighborhood, call your local animal control or police department.

If the agency does not respond, other organizations may be able to help. For more information, click here.