dangers of leaving your dog in the car

The Danger of a Dog in a Hot Car – the Misconceptions Many People Make

In Dog Behavior, Dog CPR, Dog Show, Dogs, pet care professional, pet cpr, Pet Death, Pet First Aid, Pet Industry, pet sitter, Summer pet safety, Travel with pets, Uncategorized by Cara Armour1 Comment

Don’t Fry Fido – Just Don’t

Don't Fry Fido

I never want to sound like a broken record but man do I feel like one. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) 100’s, yes that is 100’s of dogs die each year from heat stroke caused by being left in a hot car.

There is clearly a lack of education around this matter and a lack of awareness. Dog lovers that know not to do it or know how to take the proper precautions feel like its obvious – but obviously to everyone it is not. Until dogs stop dying in hot cars each year, I will continue to repeat myself. Not everyone in this moment may be a pet owner but if you are reading this, it should be shared with anyone.

Common Misconceptions

Your neighbor might not have a dog now, but they could get one next year and they might not know about the safety, or may believe in these common misconceptions.

  1. I’ll only be a minute – minutes go quickly, especially when you run into a long lost friend in the supermarket who’s back in town for her family member’s funeral. One minute turns into an hour and your car just got hotter by 40 degrees!
  2. The windows are open – so what? That is not enough airflow or you opened them so much and have an unrestrained dog who is now a missing dog.
  3. I left it running with the AC going – and your car shuts off accidentally, your dog hit the gearshift and is rolling into traffic or you ran out of gas (which actually happened to my husband).
  4. They have plenty of water – as long as they didn’t knock it over or can calm down from their panicky state to actually drink it.
  5. It’s not that hot – outside maybe not but 70 degrees outside can reach 110 degrees inside. Sun beams in and your car becomes an oven.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, made a video showing what it felt like for him to be in a hot car with the windows cracked. Keep in mind, as a human – he was in control of the situation while our dogs are not.

Now, for all of you heroes out there, be careful – while an animal may in fact be suffering stuck inside a sweltering vehicle, it is generally illegal for you to break into someone else’s property – even to save an animal. States like California and Florida have some laws that allow people to help but they have to contact the authorities first.

I go into more details surrounding this in my Facebook Live post (included below). Its great that you are a pet hero, but remember to always play it safe for you as well.

Check with the laws about breaking a window, considered criminal unless in Florida and California where you must contact authorities before taking matters into your own hands – that’s why it is so critical not to leave a dog in the car, it puts so many things at risk! 

Items to Help

If you must leave pets in a car on a hot day, have them restrained, have all the windows open and consider shade blankets, sun visors for your windshield, a battery powered fan and a remote thermometer if you must walk away. They have technology available that can alarm you to when the temperature in the car gets above 80 degrees, or when it’s not safe. Technology does fail so your safest bet – leave them at home.

If you must travel, please read this post on traveling safely with your pets. I review many of the must haves that are in addition to providing shade and adequate airflow.

When you can’t leave them at home, taking your dog outside with you is always best. Do not tie them up for a myriad of reasons, most importantly – the pavement they might sit on could be extremely hot!

If your pet does show signs of heat stroke (that you learned from taking our course) then one of many things you can do is pour cool water on them. Not cold, just cool, you do not want to shock their system. A hose would be great as long as it hasn’t been sitting in the hot sun all day, check the temperature of the water coming out of the hose before pouring it over your pooch.

Be safe and keep them safe. Try not to get arrested and if you’re like me and have seen countless times dogs left in cars at Ikea – call the authorities and go into the store to have an announcement made.

Share this with anyone, not just pet lovers. Someone might be getting a pet soon or someone who doesn’t have pets may be concerned about one they see locked in a hot car. My goal is stop dogs dying in cars each year, can you help me achieve this?


  1. Pingback: When It's Too Hot for Spot | Pro Pet Hero Blog

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