Never leave your dog in a hot car

Linn Radsted

Never leave your dog in a hot car

We all love the long, warm days of summer. Unfortunately, the heat can have dangerous consequences for dogs that are left in vehicles. Every year, many dogs die in hot cars or have to be euthanized due to internal bleeding after suffering a heat stroke in a locked car.

Temperatures in a car can quickly reach those of a sauna. And you wouldn't lock your dog in a sauna, would you? Of course, the obvious answer to that question is no, but leaving a dog in the car on a sunny day can be just as dangerous.

Temperatures in a parked car

When the temperature outside is 20-25°C (68-77°F), the temperature in a parked car rises very quickly. In 20-50 minutes, the temperature can reach 50-70°C (122-158°F) inside the car - a temperature that is deadly for dogs.

“Every year, veterinarians treat dogs that have been left alone in a hot car. In many cases, the dog is unable to be saved due to fatal internal bleeding, and the veterinarians must convey the sad news to the shocked dog owner. Therefore, we cannot stress strongly enough that even a short time in a car on a summer day can end up tragically for the dog,” says Sonja Karaoglan, director of Agria Pet Insurance.

A painful death

A painful death awaits a dog left alone in a car when his owner runs out to do some shopping.

An overheated dog cannot sweat in the same way humans do. Dogs get rid of heat through their breath. When the dog exhales vigorously, he loses a lot of fluid and his body temperature begins to rise from the normal 38°C (100.4°F) after just a few minutes. The dog panics, becomes unconscious and dies if not responded to quickly.

When his body temperature gets too high, the dog can suffer severe brain damage and internal bleeding in the intestines, liver and kidneys. In many cases, he cannot be saved.

How to help

  • Get the dog out of the hot car quickly - while it is still possible to help.
  • If you see a dog sitting in a hot car, notify the owner.
  • If the dog is clearly gasping for breath, call the emergency line (114 or 112). Minutes can be critical to life or death.
  • The dog should be removed from the car as quickly as possible and into fresh air and cooled down with water.
  • Take the dog to the vet for further treatment.

According to the Danish police, if you believe that a dog is in danger of losing its life, it is permissible to break the car window. However, one must be able to prove that the dog was actually in a life-threatening situation.

Remember the rules in the summer heat 

  • Having a window cracked does not help - the temperature will still rise.
  • The sun is moving, so it is not always enough to park the car in the shade.
  • It always takes longer to shop than you expect, so leave your dog at home if the alternative is to leave him sitting alone in your car.
  • If you are sure you will only be away for a few minutes, then park in the shade, roll down multiple windows so there is a cross-breeze, and put a note on the windshield with your cell phone number and write: "Will be right back," and the time.
  • Put a full bowl of water for the dog. 
  • If possible, cover the car with a sunshade (you can buy one that covers the whole car.) 

Time

Outside temp.

Weather

Temp. in vehicle after just 20-30 minutes

08:30

14°C (57°F)

Overcast

14°C (57°F)

09;30

18°C (64°F)

Overcast

38°C (100°F)

10:30

20°C (68°F)

Partly cloudy

47°C (116°F)

11:30

20°C (68°F)

Sunny

57°C (135°F)

12:00

23°C (73°F)

Sunny

62°C (144°F)

12:30

22°C (72°F)

Sunny

85°C (183°F)