Dogs in Hot Cars

Never Leave Your Dog
Alone in the Car

It’s easy to assume that if the day is fairly cool and it’s a quick trip, your dog will be just fine left alone in the vehicle by himself while you run your errands.  

That is very far from true. Every Springfield animal hospital sees this problem each year as the temperatures warm up. 

When it’s 72 degrees F outside, the temperature inside your car goes up to 116 degrees F within an hour; and at 80 degrees F the car heats up to 99 degrees F within 10 minutes…and keeps climbing.


heat in car graph.jpg

And if you think rolling down the windows will help keep the car cool, studies have shown that open windows don’t do much to keep the inside of the car cool. A hot, cloudy day is just as dangerous as a hot sunny one.

At our Springfield vet clinic, we generally consider 99-102 degrees F a healthy baseline temperature for dogs. Hyperthermia can kick in quickly when a dog is left helplessand panting in a rapidly heating vehicle and his temperature goes above that range.

Heat Stroke is A Killer

Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer dissipate excessive heat, and is typically associated with a temperature of 106 degrees F or higher.  At this point, your pet is risking multiple organ dysfunction and possible death. Symptoms include panting, dehydration, excessive drooling, reddened gums, and rapid heart rate with irregular beats. The dog may go into shock, and the heart may stop, or the lungs may fill with fluid and cause breathing distress. There are plenty of other symptoms, but this short list just points out the distress and pain caused to a pet left in a hot car.

And the risks of leaving an unattended pet don’t just end there. Unattended pets may try to squeeze out the window and jump from the car; success can mean serious injury from the landing, being hit by a moving vehicle in the parking lot, or being stolen.

Ask yourself if the dog really even needs to be with you in the car; The best thing you can do to protect your pet from the tragedy of heat stroke is leave him home while you run your errands.