As we've seen so far this week, the temperatures are getting higher and higher. Local veterinarians want to remind pet owners to care for their animals in the hot weather.

It's a pet owner's worst nightmare, but our four-legged friends can suffer pretty much all of the same heat-related illnesses that we can.

"They swore they only had been gone for 20 minutes to go find a burger and their dog was dead when they came back," Julia Gregory said.

Gregory remembers the moment a family from Florida learned their dog suffered from a heat stroke in downtown Chattanooga.

"Never ever, ever consider or think about leaving your dog in the car. I don't even leave my dogs in the car if it's a sunny day in the winter," she said.

Dr. Jim Hammon with Northgate Animal Hospital said extreme heat can not only be harmful to people, it can be even more difficult for pets.

"They actually do most of their heat transfer through panting, through the mounts, through the tongue, and that's kind of an inefficient means to get rid of body heat," he explained.

If a dog's body temperature reaches 103 degrees or higher, it can become deadly. It's why you should never leave a pet in a car, even if it's for a short time.

"In about 10 minutes, it can be 20 degrees hotter than it is outside. In about 60 minutes it can be 30 to 40 degrees hotter inside your car than the outside temperature," Dr. Hammon said.

It's a message Dr. Hammon can't stress enough. Just this week his office saw the first heat-related dog death.

"In that situation, it was not able to have proper thermoregulatory activity, heat transfer," Dr. Hammon said.

Vets say during the summer, it's best to keep pets indoors. But if you do leave them outside, they should have plenty of shade and cold water. Heat stroke can lead to organ failure, brain damage and even death.

It's why Gregory says she reports any animal left in hot cars.

"I call the police. That dog needs to be gotten out of the car. I try the door first," Gregory said.

People who leave a pet in a hot car can be issued an animal abuse citation and could face charges.

If you like to exercise with your dog, a local trainer tells Channel 3, a good rule of thumb is to add the current temperature with the relative humidity. If it's 150 or more, you should reduce the amount of activity outdoors.

The best time to take your pets to the dog park or for a walk is in the morning or after the sun goes down.