The Dangers of Leaving your Dog Inside the Car

Not every pet owner knows the dangers of leaving their pets inside a parked car. Many would assume that if its not that hot outside, or if it’s just for a couple of minutes—locking them inside would be fine. You cracked the window just enough for some air to go in and out, that’s safe right?

Wrong. In fact, potentially dead wrong. Cars can heat up more and faster than you think.

Each minute that passes means an increased danger for your dog inside the contained space. The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. Let another couple of minutes pass by and it can rise almost 30º F. The longer our little furry friend is in there, the higher risk you put them in.

At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Calculating, a normal 70-degree day for you is 110 degrees in a car! Imagine the suffering your dog can feel, even “just for a couple of minutes” you were out.


Image from Pixabay

“You’d think that everybody would know about the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, but it was still happening last year when we saw some really tragic cases of dogs dying because they were trapped inside cars in high temperatures, Nigel Gibbens, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said.

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. The quick rise of temperature inside the car puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you. To make it more serious than it already sounds; cracking the windows makes no difference.

An independently commissioned study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside under the temperatures ranging from 72 to 96º F rose steadily as time increased.

In another study​, it is found that the temperatures in a dark-coloured car, parked on a hot, but partly cloudy day, exceeded 125oF within 20 minutes! In just a snap, a car can be an oven for your dog!

Even if its cool outside, the temperature inside a parked car will still rise, and could still be deadly for your furry baby.
According to Humane Society, when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. When it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes. Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car.

“Leaving the car windows open and a bowl of water is not enough. As a dog can only cool down through its tongue and paw pads, it cannot cool down quickly enough to cope with the rising heat,” Gibbens added.

Here are our dog’s telltale signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Bright red gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Dilated pupils with a panicked look on the face
  • Excessive panting and difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Collapsing or convulsing
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

So, what should you do if you see a poor one locked inside? Is it legal to break in the glass, and set them free?

dog inside the car 2

Image from Pixabay

In fact, the law does offer protection in certain cases for committing criminal damage in order to save the animal’s life.

Matthew Reynolds, an associate solicitor at Merseyside-based Kirwans law firm, said: “If the dog is not showing any signs of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, whimpering or barking, then try and find the driver, for example, by asking supermarket staff to make an announcement.

However, in most places, only specific people, such as police, public safety employees, animal control officers or fire rescue members, can use “reasonable” force to rescue a dog overheating inside a parked vehicle.

Be aware that if you break the window to free the dog, you may have saved his life, but the owner can hold you liable for the damages to his vehicle.

So, here is a recommended strategy:

  • First, attempt to contact the local police, animal shelter or animal protection agency.
  • Provide the precise location, vehicle model and license plate.
  • Go quickly inside the store and ask the manager to make an announcement to alert the dog’s owner.

“If you do leave the vehicle then try and get someone to stay with the dog to keep an eye on it and, if you can’t locate the owner, consider calling the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line 0300 1234 999,” Reynolds said.

“[But] If the dog is [already] showing signs of heatstroke then you should call 999 immediately,” he added.

Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe—be it a cold or a hot day. High temperatures can cause discomfort, irreparable organ damage and even death. Protecting animals from an unnecessary death is a problem we can all agree to prevent.

Here are other ways you can help:

  • Get informed:You should be prepared and research for your town’s laws about leaving pets in parked cars, as well as the contact numbers you should inform when you see such cases.
  • Be ready to call for help: If you are not authorized to do anything about it, call for concerned agencies that will have the jurisdiction to take action. Keep their numbers in your purse or in your phone’s contact list.
  • Spread the word: Help in educating pet owners, and people in general, about this deadly mistake. You can volunteer in animal shelters and suggest to conduct seminars and talks about the matter.

“Dogs still have thick coats on when humans are walking around in t-shirts and shorts,” Gibbens reminded. “I would like owners to remember that a dog won’t stop enjoying itself because it is hot, so it is up to the owner to stop the animal before it suffers.”