Dogs in Hot Cars: When is it Too Hot to Have a Dog Left in the Car

Holiday & seasonal
Dog in Hot Car

Our pups are the ultimate adventure buddies – always down for a car ride, a hike, or just hanging out. But let's face it, sometimes those adventures involve places they just can't come along. "No problem, right?" we think. They can just wait in the car for a few minutes while we take care of our errands. Except... imagine yourself stuck in a hot car, wearing their thick fur coat. Think about how stifling that would be, even for a short while?

A parked car on a warm day heats up much faster than you might think, turning into an oven that can be dangerous for your furry friend. It's possible for dogs to suffer from heat stroke after only 15 minutes in a hot car, which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death if not treated quickly.

Generally, a safe outside temperature to leave a dog in the car is between 30-70°F. However, it's best to avoid leaving your dog unattended in the car altogether, regardless of the temperature. This not only minimizes potential health risks, but also general distress. Your pup loves to be with you and can get anxious being left alone—he may pace, whine, or howl being trapped in a car without you.

The Dangers of Dogs in Hot Cars

While waiting in a parked car might seem like a harmless solution for a quick errand, it can be dangerous for your dog. Unlike us, they can't shed their fur coat or sweat effectively to cool down. Trapped inside a rapidly heating car, their body temperature can rise quickly, leading to a serious condition called heatstroke.

Here's what can happen when a dog gets too hot:

  • Heatstroke: This is the most severe danger. When a dog's body overheats, it can damage vital organs and even lead to death. Symptoms include excessive panting, glazed eyes, lethargy, vomiting, and eventually seizures or coma.

  • Dehydration: Cars can become incredibly dry environments, and panting further accelerates fluid loss. Dehydration can worsen the effects of heatstroke and lead to organ failure.

  • Heat exhaustion: This is a less severe form of heatstroke but can still be dangerous. Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, and weakness. If left untreated, it can progress to heatstroke.

  • Suffocation: Cracked windows offer little relief from the heat, and a dog trapped in a hot car can struggle to breathe properly.

The scary part? These dangers can develop in a surprisingly short amount of time, even on a day that doesn't feel that hot outside. Car interiors heat up rapidly, reaching dangerous temperatures even on seemingly mild days. At 70 degrees outside, your car can hit 89 degrees in just 10 minutes, and 104 degrees in 30 minutes! The hotter it gets outside, the faster the car heats up inside.

Safety Tips for Dogs in Hot Car

Your dog is an important part of your family. It's natural to want to take them with you for rides in the car. If you need to make a stop, keep them as short as possible and follow these tips:

Park strategically

Seek out shaded areas whenever possible. If shade isn't available, it's best to postpone your errand or find alternative care for your dog.

Quick in, quick out

Plan your errands efficiently to minimize the time your dog spends unattended in the car. Ideally, keep it under 10 minutes.

Hydration is key

Leave a bowl of fresh, cool water in the car for your dog to access. Consider using a travel water bowl that prevents spills.

Plan for cooler weather

If possible, schedule errands for early mornings or evenings when temperatures are cooler.

Dog in Hot Car Waiting for Owner

Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog in the Car

Leaving your furry friend at home in a cool, comfortable environment with fresh water is always the safest option if you can't take them with you. Alternatively, consider asking a friend, neighbor, or family member to watch your dog while you're out. For longer errands, pet-sitting services or doggy daycare offer excellent options to ensure your pup stays happy and entertained.

Surprisingly, many stores welcome well-behaved, leashed dogs inside! It's always best to check with the store beforehand, but you might be surprised how many places are happy to see your pup.

Consider Dog Insurance

As a responsible pet parent, you prioritize your dog's safety and well-being in all situations, but even the most prepared pet parent can't predict everything. Heatstroke doesn’t only happen in a hot car—it can happen on your daily walk. Your pup could get hold of a stingray on your beach trip, run into a bee in the backyard, or break a leg chasing after a squirrel at the park.

That's where dog insurance comes in. You don't want to be faced with a difficult decision about your dog's care because of the cost. Dog insurance helps ensure you can focus on your furry friend's recovery and getting back to those tail-wagging adventures, not the cost of their medical care.

Avoid the Risks of Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars

While it's certainly possible to bring your pup along on errands, it's essential to prioritize their safety and comfort. By following the tips outlined above and being mindful of the dangers of dogs in hot cars, you can ensure that your pup remains safe. However, your furry friend will likely have more fun if you take them on adventures tailored to their needs and interests.

Warm weather opens the door to countless outings with your furry best friend. Imagine playful dips in a cool lake, exhilarating frisbee chases in the park, or simply soaking up the sunshine on a cozy dog-friendly patio – all shared experiences that create lasting memories. While errands are a part of life, your dog thrives on these special moments with you. So, ditch the car, grab your leash, and embark on unforgettable adventures with your furry companion!