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How Hot is Too Hot for Dogs in Cars?

By Kara Bednarik

Imagine walking outside in a coat, pants, and covered shoes with socks on in 80-degree weather. How long do you think it would take you to start getting warm? Now imagine getting into your car with the doors and windows closed in all that gear. You would get uncomfortably hot much quicker than just being outside.

Your dog wears a fur coat all year. And even if you give him a summer cut, consider that a lighter jacket. It’s possible for dogs to suffer from heat stroke after only 15 minutes. Heat stroke can lead to permanent brain damage or even death if not treated quickly. Keep in mind that when it’s 70 degrees outside, your car can heat up to 89 degrees in just 10 minutes – and up to 104 degrees after 30 minutes. The warmer it is outside, the faster the inside of your car will get hot.

Infographic of pet car safety for hot weather

Can I leave my dog in the car?

The safest choice is not to leave your dog unattended in the car. However, as a pet owner, your dog is likely a companion and 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 the tips below.

How long can you leave your dog in the car?

If you must run a quick errand (like making a bank deposit, dropping off dry cleaning, or anything less than 10 minutes), your dog will probably be fine as long as you take proper precautions.

Age is also a factor in higher temperatures. Older pets can’t regulate their body temperature as well and they have a harder time catching their breath.

Five Tips to Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car Unattended:

  1. Park in a shaded area. If a shaded area isn’t available, maybe go to a different place or run your pooch home instead of stopping while you have him with you.
  2. Put the air conditioner on high. Having the windows open is a great idea in theory, but that small space isn’t enough to properly circulate air for your dog. Having the air conditioner on a high setting will keep the air flowing evenly, and it’s much cooler than a breeze.
  3. Keep an eye on your car. When your dog is stressed, he may pace, pant, whine, or bark. All these behaviors cause him to heat up, and even if you’re parked in the shade with the AC blasting, your dog is potentially still in danger. Keeping your car in view helps you to rush back if you need to.
  4. Keep your errands short. As mentioned before, try not to leave him unattended for longer than 10 minutes. If your errand is running longer than anticipated, try to plan to do it later instead. Your dog’s safety is more important than dropping off dry cleaning.
  5. Strap your dog in. Have a seat belt or crate for your dog in the car. This limits his movement in the car and can keep him from putting it in gear or rolling the windows down while you’re away.

What to do if you See a Pet in a Locked Car on a Hot Day

If you do see a pet in a locked car, please don’t break them out yourself. The safest thing to do is to try to find the owner in the stores nearby, or call 911 for a professional extrication. The chance of you or the animal getting hurt by glass or the animal running off in fear because someone is breaking into their car is a real concern.

While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. Check out what the Embrace plan covers or compare pet insurance providers to learn more.

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