Common Misconceptions About Leaving Dogs In Hot Cars

By Valdette Muller| December 18, 2017 | Blog

Hot dog

As the weather gets hotter we need to be more aware of the effects it can have on our pets.

Unfortunately there are still many misconceptions regarding leaving our dogs in parked cars.

Many of these misconceptions have led to dangerous practices that can result in severe consequences such as heat stroke.

Heat stoke can cause organ failure, shock, brain damage and even death to dogs if they are left in hot cars.

For a dog, cooling down is harder to do when the temperatures are high. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads.

What if I keep the car window slightly open?

“In hot, stuffy cars dogs cannot cool down – leaving a window open or a sunshield on windscreens will not keep your car cool enough,” says Toti SPCA PRO, Michelle Hannan.

If you think that opening a window slightly will prevent your dog getting heat stroke please think again!

Be aware that when it is as cool as 22°C outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 47°C with or without a cars window being slightly open.

The Reality is that leaving your window open or slightly ajar will only have minimal benefits and will not prevent the car from reaching dangerous temperatures that could be harmful to your dog.

But I will only be gone for a minute.

Dog owners may only plan on leaving their pets unattended for short periods of time, to run errands or dash into the grocery store.

Nothing is certain or in your control if you leave your dog alone in a warm car for just a minutes. You never know when you could be delayed by a longer checkout line or you find your appointment had taken longer then you expected.

Be wary of leaving your dog in a car that will start heating up fast the moment you leave it. A delay in your return can result in your dog suffering from heat stroke.

Leaving water in the car.

Please provide your dog with fresh, cool water on any scorching hot day.

Leaving water for your dog in the car is a very good thing and helps to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.

While leaving water is a great idea, it is not enough to prevent heat stroke from happening to your dog if left in a sweltering hot car.

Regardless of giving them water, dogs rely on their evaporation abilities to cool themselves down. Panting, to get rid of excess heat becomes harder do in a hot stuffy car.

What if I park in the shade?

The sun moves, and even if you had parked your car in the shade, you may find that the shade had moved and in the end you left your dog and car baking away in the sun for longer then you anticipated.

In hotter weather, cars can also heat up in the shade just as much as they do in the sun.

Symptoms of a dog having heat stroke include: 

  • Heavy panting
  • Extreme salivation
  • Rapid pulse
  • Very red gums and tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

What do I do if my dog has heat stroke?

If you cannot get to a vet fast enough, you can help your dog out by:

  • Getting them to a cooler area as quickly as possible.
  • Provide them with water to drink.
  • If possible cool them down with the spray of a garden hose or place them in a tub of water (please do not use ice as this could shock their system).
  • You can also place them on an Instant Cooling pad which can reduce the body temperature. This gadget is perfect for travelling in case things do get too hot in the car.
  • Place your dog in front of an electric fan.
  • Place wet towels on their body to help cool them down.

If your dog is unable to recover, get to vet immediately as they may need to be placed on a hydration IV drip.

Help spread awareness and educate yourself and your loved ones on the dangers of heat stroke and help protect your pets.


NSPCA: Dogs in Hot Cars



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