The Dangers of Leaving Your Dog in the Car

Small dog in back window of car

It may seem innocuous enough to leave your pet in the car while you run into the store for a few minutes… You hunt the parking lot for a shady spot and even leave the windows open so the air flows through. But, don’t fool yourself—leaving your dog in the car is never OK. 

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat stroke as a result of being left in a parked car. In fact, being left in cars is the number one reason for heat-related death in dogs. Come along with Schertz Animal Hospital as we explore the dangers of leaving your dog in the car.

Hotter Than You Think

The temperature inside your vehicle can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. That means that if you leave your beloved dog in the car for 10 minutes on a 70 degree day, the temperature in the car reaches 80 degrees before you’re back. In 20 minutes, it can rise 30 degrees. The longer you are gone, the higher it goes. In 60 minutes, the temperature in your car can be 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Studies show that “cracking the windows” makes no difference. 

Heat Stroke and Your Dog

When the body is exposed to extreme temperatures, serious injury and risk of death can occur. Heat stress and heat stroke in dogs occurs when the internal body temperature rises to 103 degrees. The body normally cools itself through panting and (to a lesser degree) sweating through the paws. 

When pets have heat stroke, it’s a medical emergency. Organ failure and death can result if veterinary care is not immediate. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take them to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital right away.

Here are the signs:

  • Anxiousness
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness/unsteadiness
  • Abnormally red gums or tongue
  • Collapse

Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em (At Home)

All dogs are susceptible to heat stroke. Older dogs, puppies, sick pets, and short-faced breeds (such as pugs and bulldogs) could suffer more quickly than other dogs. The issue is so important that 31 states have laws restricting people from leaving dogs alone in cars.

The safest place for your dog is at home, in the air conditioning. If you must travel with your dog in the car, bring along another adult who can wait with your dog in the car with the air conditioner running. 

As summer rolls on, the risk of high temperatures  and heat stroke grows even at home. Stay on top of your dog’s temperature with the AKC Link collar. The smart collar sends you an alert when your dog is exposed to high temperatures so you can keep him safe, no matter where he is.

The bottom line: never, ever leave your dog alone in the car. The risk of death is just too great. If you have questions about your pet’s safety and well-being, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your team at Schertz Animal Hospital