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How Long Can a Dog Survive in a Hot Car? Important Facts to Know

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Big brown dog inside a car

We all know that it is dangerous to leave a dog in a hot car. But did you know that it can be deadly? In just a few short minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach dangerously high levels, even on relatively mild days. Dogs can’t cool themselves down as effectively as humans can, so they are at risk of developing heatstroke or even dying if left in a hot car. In this blog post, we will explore the dangers of leaving dogs in cars and answer the question: how long can a dog survive in a hot car? The answer, it is that it will all depend over the dog, however the average of a healthy adult dog might be able to tolerate being in a parked car for up to 30 minutes.

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Dangers of Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars

When the weather is warm, it is tempting to bring our furry friends along with us on errands or trips. However, it is never safe to leave a dog in a car, even for a short period of time. The temperature inside a car can rise quickly, and dogs can’t sweat like humans do to cool themselves down. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach up to 100 degrees in just minutes! Dogs can develop heatstroke when their body temperatures reach 104 degrees.

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

How Long Can a Dog Survive in a Hot Car?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the outside temperature, the length of time the dog is left in the car, and the dog’s age, breed, and health. In general, dogs can only tolerate being in a hot car for a short period of time before they start to experience distress.

On an 80-degree day, for example, a healthy adult dog might be able to tolerate being in a parked car for up to 30 minutes without showing signs of heatstroke. However, puppies or senior dogs would likely begin to experience distress after just 15 minutes in the same conditions. It is important to remember that the temperature inside a car can rise very quickly, so it is always best to err on the side of caution and not leave your dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes.

What Are Symptoms that My Dog is Overheating?

Symptoms of heatstroke include panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, dark tongue and gums, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse. If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, it is important to get them to a cool area and seek veterinary care immediately.

What Do I Do if My Dog is Overheating?

If you think your dog is overheating, the first thing you should do is move them to a cool area and begin cooling them down with cool (not cold) water. Apply the water to their body, especially their chest and head. You can also use a fan to help circulate air around them. Once they are cooled down, take them to the vet immediately.

Overheating is a serious problem for dogs, and can even be deadly. If you must leave your dog in a car, be sure to take precautions to help keep them cool, and never leave them alone for more than a few minutes. If you think your dog is overheating, take them to a cool area and seek veterinary care immediately.

thirsty dog drinking water from a flowing pipe
Image Credit: Sinawa, Pixabay

What if I Have to Leave My Dog in the Car?

If you must leave your dog in the car, there are some things you can do to help keep them cool and comfortable. Park in the shade if possible and crack the windows to allow for ventilation or turn on the air conditioning if you know it keeps your car cool while it’s idling.

Leave them with plenty of water and consider placing a fan near the open window to help circulate air. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car for more than a few minutes and be sure to check on them frequently. If you see any signs of heatstroke (panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, dark tongue and gums, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, or collapse), get them to a cool area and seek veterinary care immediately.

dog inside car
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

More Heat Safety Tips for Dogs

The ASPCA also offers these hot weather safety tips for dogs:
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a minute. Temperatures can rise quickly inside vehicles, and dogs can suffer from heatstroke very quickly.
  • Make sure your dog has access to shade and plenty of cool water when they are outside.
  • Avoid walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day and stick to cooler morning or evening hours instead.
  • If you must walk your dog during the day, make sure to take breaks often so they can rest in the shade and have a drink of water.
  • Avoid hot pavement, which can burn your dog’s paws. Stick to grassy areas or paths instead.
  • Never leave your dog unattended around a pool or other body of water. If they fall in, they could drown or suffer from heat exhaustion.
  • Know the signs of heatstroke in dogs, which include panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, dark tongue and gums, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse. If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, get them to a cool area and seek veterinary care immediately.

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Conclusion

Dogs can only tolerate being in a hot car for a short period of time before they start to experience distress. On an 80-degree day, for example, a healthy adult dog might be able to tolerate being in a parked car for up to 30 minutes without showing signs of heatstroke. However, puppies or senior dogs would likely begin to experience distress after just 15 minutes in the same conditions. It is important to remember that the temperature inside a car can rise very quickly, so it is always best to err on the side of caution and not leave your dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes.


Featured Image Credit: Maria Orlova, Pexels

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