Hot Car Danger to Pets

Tragedy is Preventable

Golden retriever sitting in car

As summer approaches, it’s important to remember how warmer temperatures can have a deadly affect on pets — especially while left inside a hot car.

While there aren’t any official statistics on the number of pets that die each year in cars as a result of heat exhaustion, nationally publicized news stories have shed light on such this tragic occurrence that can be easily avoided.

K-9s Dying Inside Police Cars

During the last week of May 2015, a total of 11 K-9 dogs in states including California, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and Wisconsin died due to heat exhaustion.

It was an unfortunate record tallying the amount of (known) dogs to die trapped inside a hot car within one week’s time. The majority of the K-9’s handlers did not intentionally leave them to die. Like most pet owners, they wrongly assumed their canine companions would be okay.

The sobering reality is that temperatures inside a car — even with the windows open — can be deadly to a dog even on a relatively “cool” summer day with temperatures in the high 70s.

Heat Exhaustion and Dogs

Bulldog outside

A dog can begin to suffer from heat exhaustion once temperatures reach 83 degrees.  When a dog’s core temperature approaches 106 degrees F, heat stroke can occur and quickly become fatal.

When dogs are hot, they begin to pant and drool. Other signs of heat exhaustion include vomiting, weakness, collapse and seizures.

Brachycephalic (short snouted) dog breeds with such as boxers, pugs, Shar-Peis, Boston terriers, Brussels griffins, mastiffs, chow-chows, bull dogs, French bull dogs, Shih Tzus, Staffordshire terriers, Lhasa apsos, and spaniels are more susceptible to heat stroke. In other words, they can fall victim to heat exhaustion at a faster rate than dog breeds with a longer snout.

Heat and Humidity Deadly Combination for Dogs

Humidity is also a contributing fact to heat stroke/heat exhaustion in dogs.

Humidity increases the heat index; for example, a relatively cool 75 degree day with 75 percent humidity can feel like a 150 degree day to a dog in a fur coat. It’s a deadly combination. It's best to exercise dogs early in the morning or in the evening and avoid taking dogs with you in a car in the case that you may have to leave them waiting for you for any period of time.

Hot Temperatures Inside a Car

The temperature inside a car — even with the windows rolled down — can quickly rise an additional 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Within five minutes, the temperature inside your car can rise another 10 degrees, and so forth. By then, it's too hot for your dog and heat exhaustion has set in. Within minutes, your dog could suffer heatstroke and die.

HeatKills.org graphic

If you have any doubts about whether or not it's too hot for your dog to travel with you on a warm day, don't second guess it: leave your pet home in a cool place.