“It’s only going to be a few minutes and I’ll make sure to crack the window for fresh air…” If you’re a dog owner this thought may have entered your mind from time to time. We love our pets and we want to spend as much quality time with them as possible! But if you’re considering taking your dog for a ride in the car, consider the following: will you be making any stops? If so, for how long? Can you bring your pet with you when you stop? What is the temperature outside?

Dog and girl in car

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) warns us:

“It doesn’t have to be sweltering outside to make it dangerous to leave dogs inside a vehicle. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30 degrees, and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in a vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside the vehicle.”

Dogs don’t sweat like humans; they pant to cool themselves. It’s important to note that panting is actually a very inefficient way for dogs to cool off. If the air in your car is hot and your pet is trying to cool down by breathing hot air, it’s going to be difficult to get their body temperature back to a normal range. Symptoms of heat stroke include rapid, heavy panting; bright red tongue; drooling and thick saliva; dizziness and/or weakness; vomiting and diarrhea; and seizure and collapse.

The following excerpt can be found on the AVMA website:

Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn’t help.

Elapsed time / Temperature rise inside vehicle
10 minutes 19°F
20 minutes 29°F
30 minutes 34°F
60 minutes 43°F
1 to 2 hours 45-50°F

So, you’ve educated yourself and done your best to keep your pets safe, but what if you see a dog in a car on a hot day? What should you do? Answers to this question vary depending upon context. We recommend approaching the situation by giving the pet owner the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps phrase your concern as an educational tidbit. If the owner isn’t present, as is the case much of the time, have the store page the pet owner and either you or store personnel can communicate the concern and the symptoms you’ve observed. If the situation looks dire, call the police. Never try to break a car window or damage property even with the best of intentions, as this may not go over well!

Points to remember:

Leaving your pet in the car even with cracked windows does not allow enough ventilation and when in doubt, leave your pet at home!

At A2AH we want you and your pets to live long healthy lives and enjoy the beautiful summer weather and temperatures that come along with this season. Check out the video and resources below to learn more and think through your plans before bringing your animals along. Happy Summer!

How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car Dr Ernie Ward

more reliable articles about heatstroke:



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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.