leaving dogs in hot cars

Leaving your dog in a hot car can lead to death from heat stroke in less than 10 minutes. Summer is here, and we are as excited as anyone. Unfortunately, dogs die every year from being left alone in cars, especially during the summer months. Leaving dogs in hot cars is absolutely unacceptable. Even if you’re running an errand for “just a minute,” that may be too long for your pet to handle. Here are a few of the facts surrounding leaving dogs in hot cars, laws on the issue, and what you can do to help.

Dog riding in a vehicle (1)

 The Danger

Dogs don’t have the self-cooling abilities that humans have. When dogs recognize that they are overheating, they typically panic, only expediting the overheating process.

Intense heat has the ability to shut down a dog’s organ systems all at once. When a dog is left in a hot car, he or she could suffer from:

  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Heart complications
  • Blood thickening
  • Dehydration
  • Death

Simply cracking the window does little to reduce temperature. If it’s 100°F outside, the inside of your car can reach 140°F in as little as 15 minutes. Experts recommend not leaving your dog in the car if the temperature is greater than 70°F.
Dog in car

What To Do If You See A Dog Left in the Car

It’s important for all of us to be vigilant of dogs left in parked cars, particularly during the hot summer months. Look for heavy panting, weakness, gasping for air, unconsciousness, or other signs of distress.

Tap on the window and see how the dog responds. If anything seems unusual, call the police, and search for the owner immediately if it appears the dog is not yet in critical condition. If the dog appears to be in serious trouble, you may not have time to search for the owner, aside from calling for help. The police can give you guidance on the laws of your state. In some states, you can legally break into a car with police permission to save the life of a dog.

If you’re a dog owner, your dog is safer left at home alone than alone in a hot car.

Laws Protecting Dogs Left in Hot Cars

Many states have stepped up to create legislation that protects dogs and those who try to protect dogs left in hot cars. Currently, 17 states have created laws surrounding this topic. These states are:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Arizona
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Tennessee

These laws are written a variety of ways. Some states have created legislation protecting individuals who break into a car to save an animal if the owner cannot be found. Others have created penalties for individuals who endanger or kill a dog by leaving it in a hot vehicle.

dog in car on a hot day

We all make mistakes and misjudgments, but this is an issue that is completely avoidable. Take no chances, even if the weather seems cool enough. Dogs left in hot cars can only survive for a matter of minutes. It is a cruel, terribly inhumane way for a dog to die. Let’s work together to protect dogs, and advocate for legislation that protects our furry friends.

2 thoughts to “Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars – Information Everyone Should Know

  • Peggy Cole

    This is great info. I never leave my dog in a car!!! If i had to, I would leave it running with airconditioner on!!!. Makes me sick to see people leave a furbaby in a car!!!

  • Sarah

    Very good points! Also want to add that if you leave your dog in the car with the air conditioning on, make sure you get an extra key made so you can lock your doors! Unfortunely, there are too many reports of dogs being stolen from owners.


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