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Is It Really Too Hot Outside to Leave My Dog in the Car?

on July 14, 2021
is it really too hot outside to leave my dog in the car

Dog owners love their pups so much that they take them everywhere with them. And let's be honest, our dogs love car rides just as much. But is it safe to leave your dog in the car while you run into the store?

Every year hundreds of pets die from being left in a car while their owner is in the store or restaurant. As a dog owner, running into the store for 10 minutes on a hot day might not seem like a big deal; you left the window cracked. But to your dog, it could be a matter of life and death.


I Mean, How Hot Can A Car Get in 30 Minutes?

A study published by Pediatrics found that on days when the external temperatures exceeded 86°F, the internal temperatures of the car quickly reached 134 to 154°F. So they researched different external temperatures to see what the increase inside the car would be.

They discovered that it made little difference to the rise of temperature within the vehicle. The average mean increase was 3.2°F per 5-minute interval, with 80% of the temperature rise occurring during the first 30 minutes. They also discovered that cracking the windows did not decrease the rate of temperature rise in the vehicle. The window closed increase was 3.4°F per 5 minutes, and the window opened was 3.1°F per 5 minutes.

Scott decided to see what it was like to sit in a hot car on a summer day. Check it out.


Scott Spends 30 Minutes in the Car on a Hot, Summer Day


On an 82°F summer day, Scott's car's internal temperature rose to 120°F in 30 minutes. In that time, your dog would have gone from panting like crazy to shock as their heart rate started to slow before their body, hit heatstroke and may have died.

Dogs mainly regulate their body temperature through panting, but it's harder for them to do in extreme heat. So when a dog is very hot, panting isn't enough to stop them from overheating. Most dogs begin to show signs of overheating when the air temperature is between 81 and 85°F.

The average body temperature for a dog is from 99.5 to 102.5°F. Dogs hit heat exhaustion when their body temperature hits 103°F. And at 105°F, they are in heatstroke, resulting in thermal injury to body tissue.

dont leave your dog in the car when it is hot

Heat Stress vs. Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke:

  • Heat Stress: Excessive panting, tongue excessively protruding out with a flattened end, cheeks pulled back revealing the full arcade of the teeth including the molars, brick red mucous membranes, and early changes in the dog's focus or readiness.
  • Heat Exhaustion: The excessive panting becomes uncontrollable, the other clinical signs are still present, but now there is possible vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or stumbling.
  • Heat Stroke: The dogs have the signs of heat exhaustion with the addition of mentation and consciousness changes. The dog can be in a stupor, seizures, head tremors and depressed, or unconscious.

So, don't worry, we came up with five alternatives to leaving your dog in the car on a hot day.


5 Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog in the Car:

As a general rule of thumb, we suggest you don't leave your dog in the car. But generally, it's safe to leave your dog in the car if the outside temperature is between 30-70°F and for no more than 5 minutes. Let's repeat that, no more than 5 minutes. And IF you have to, be sure to find a shady spot, crack the window, and be back at your car in 5 minutes.


1. Leave your dog at home.

We know you love your dog, and your dog loves car rides, but if you know your errands are going to leave your dog in the car for more than 5 minutes, keep them at home.


2. Eat outdoors so your dog can eat with you.

Find a dog-friendly restaurant and take your pet to eat with you. Some dog-friendly restaurants provide dog bowls, but it never hurts to bring your own.


3. Use the drive-thru/ pick up for errands.

Thanks to quarantining last year, most places have drive-thru or pick-up available when you order online. So you might not get as many steps in, but you get more quality time with your dog.


4. Shop at pet-friendly stores (like ACE Hardware).

Figure out which stores are pet-friendly and do all your shopping there. Then, not only does your dog get a car trip, but they also get a shopping trip.


5. Bring a friend to dog-sit.

And if you have to bring your dog on a hot day and will need to run in the business, bring a friend to dog-sit for you. Then, you can run inside, and they can stay outside with the air-conditioning running.

Final Important Message

If your dog is experiencing heat stress, bring them to a cool area as soon as possible and provide them water. And if they are experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, have them checked out by your vet.

Would you please share this video and help raise awareness on pet safety? Together we can help save the lives of dogs everywhere.


Videography Credit: Austin Jones at Black Lion Media


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