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How Hot Is Too Hot for Dogs in a Car? Safety Facts

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

Big brown dog inside a car

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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With the rise in hot weather, it’s essential to be extra mindful of keeping your pets nice and cool during the summer months. It’s the pet owner’s responsibility to ensure that their pets are kept in safe environments.

In general, it’s not recommended to keep your pet inside cars because it can overheat too quickly. Even if the outside temperature is at 60°F, a car with all its doors and windows closed sitting in the sun can lead to temperatures higher than 100°F. So, here’s what you need to know about keeping pets in cars and the risks associated with it.

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Risks of Keeping Your Pets in Cars

Even if the weather outside is cool, the interior of your car will experience the greenhouse effect and absorb the heat from the sun. So, the internal temperature of your car will be much hotter than the external temperature.

Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows that it only takes 20 minutes for the internal temperature of a car to reach 110°F in 70°F weather. Cracking open your windows is insufficient because your pet will still be trapped in the heat.

Once your pet’s internal temperature reaches 106°F, heatstroke can occur, and temperatures of 107°F-109°F can lead to multiple organ failure and death. It doesn’t take much time for your pet to get stuck in a risky situation in a car. So, it’s best just to leave your pet at home or come up with other alternatives so that it’s not left in a car unattended.

Alternatives To Leaving Your Pet Inside a Car

dog in car smiling - pixabay
Credit: EnriqueZavaleta, Pixabay

If keeping your pet at home isn’t a viable option, there are several other things you can do to prevent leaving it in a car by itself.

Find Someone Who Can Go with You

First, try and find someone who can go with you so that a person can stay inside the car with your pet while you run out to complete a quick errand. This person can adjust the air conditioning in the car so that your pet doesn’t overheat.

Meet in Pet-Friendly Locations

You can also try meeting people in pet-friendly establishments. Plenty of cafes allow pets in outdoor seating areas, or you can set up dates in a dog-friendly park.

Request Curbside Pickup

Many stores also offer curbside pickup. You can purchase your items online beforehand and request curbside pickup, so you don’t have to leave your car.

Use Pet Daycare or Pet Sitters

It also doesn’t hurt to pre-plan your day and try to put as many errands as you can into one day. Then, you can reduce the number of days your pet is left home alone. You can also schedule a date to place your pet in daycare or boarding so that your pet is supervised in a safe place while you complete your errands. If your pet doesn’t do well with other animals, you can also find a pet sitter to spend some time with your pet at home for a couple of hours.

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What To Do If You See a Pet Inside a Car

Black and white dog inside a car
Image Credit: John, Pexels

Hyperthermia in pets can occur quickly, so it’s vital to act quickly if you see a pet left unattended in a car. However, some cars can run air conditioning and keep pets cool without a driver inside. So, make sure to check if the car is running or not.

If the car isn’t running, take down the make, model, color, and license plate of the car and go to nearby establishments to try to locate the owner. Try speaking with store managers to see if an intercom system is available to alert the car owner.

If you can’t locate the car owner, contact your local humane authorities or the police to unlock the car. Time is of the essence, and it’s especially irresponsible to leave a brachycephalic dog in the car. These types of dogs have short snouts and smaller airways, making breathing and cooling down more difficult. They’re more susceptible to overheating than other breeds.

Brachycephalic dog breeds include the following:
  • Affenpinscher
  • Boxer
  • All bulldogs
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bullmastiff
  • Boston Terrier
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu

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Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion in cars. Hyperthermia is also one of the most preventable causes of death. Due to the risks and dangerous consequences, it’s best not to leave your dog in a car unattended under any circumstances. It’s much safer to keep them at home, especially on hot summer days. If this isn’t an option, try to find other alternatives to avoid keeping your dog in the car.

Featured Image Credit: Maria Orlova, Pexels

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