Dog in a Hot Car

Jul 18, 2015

Even with the windows cracked, this dog is in serious danger!
Credit Donald Lee Pardue [Flickr]

You would never put your pet in an oven, but that's essentially what you are doing if you leave an animal in a closed car on a warm day.  Either leave a person with your pet or leave your pet at home.


Lots of us have been experiencing hot weather lately. It’s important to remember that the summer sun can pose dangers for our furry friends.

In Illinois a man has been charged with animal cruelty for leaving his two Terrier dogs in a locked car Tuesday afternoon. One dog has been hospitalized; the other suffered such serious heat stroke that it had to be euthanized.

Unfortunately, at this time of year these stories are not uncommon. Too often someone will think they can leave their pet in the car FOR JUST A FEW MINUTES while they run a quick errand. But in the summer heat, temperatures in a closed car (even with all the windows cracked) can top one hundred twenty degrees in just a few minutes.

And those errands are rarely as quick as we think they will be. In fact, this week I stopped at a neighborhood pharmacy and parked next to a car with a dog inside. It was mid-day, sunny, hot - the car windows were cracked, the dog was barking and panting and the owner was nowhere in sight. I went inside and after asking around, found the owner at the back of the store waiting to pick up a prescription. It was taking longer than she expected because there was a line of customers. Meanwhile her dog waited in the car, in the heat, with no relief and no way to escape from temperatures rapidly rising to deadly levels.

Dogs cannot sweat to cool their bodies. They pant. But when the only air available is super-heated, panting does no good. A pet can suffer a heat stroke in a matter of minutes, resulting in fatal damage to its internal organs.

One New York community has created a Facebook Page entitled “Too Hot For Spot” to increase awareness of the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car. You can also visit the Humane Society of the United States website for suggestions of things you can do if you see a pet in a parked car.

Please, remember – if you can’t take your pet in with you, don’t take your pet with you. It may be inconvenient, but putting your best friend’s life at risk is just not worth the risk, when you’re speaking of pets.