So I’ve learned to adapt to having my dog in the car, and I’ve put together the answers to the most important questions that everyone should know about dogs and parked cars on warm days.
1. How hot does it have to be outside to be too hot in the car for my dog?
Unfortunately, because cars can heat up so fast, it doesn’t need to be very hot outside to be too hot for your dog. The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) has this handy chart that shows how hot cars can get depending on the temperature outside. Really, if it’s at all warm and sunny, then dogs shouldn’t be left in cars.
2. What if I leave the windows open?
If it’s really windy, and you leave the windows fully open (in which case your dog will probably escape), then it probably could help keep the car cool. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, most dog owners don’t leave their windows fully open, and leaving them cracked doesn’t move enough air around to make a difference. So even with the windows cracked, if it’s at all warm and sunny, don’t leave dogs in cars.
3. What if I park in the shade?
Again, depending on the situation, parking in the shade could potentially make it safe for your dog to be in the car. Unfortunately, shade moves, and on warm days, even cars parked in the shade can get dangerously hot for your dog. He’ll thank you for not doing it.
4. What if it’s only for five minutes?
Are you sure it’s only going to be five minutes? Maybe you can’t find what you’re looking for, or maybe the checkout line is longer than you expected and then your 5 minute stop becomes a 15 minute stop. But even if it is just five minutes, this is usually still too long to leave a dog in a car on a warm day. Try sitting in your car for five minutes and see how you feel; it’ll be much worse for your dog since he’s covered in fur and can’t sweat other than through his feet.
5. What should I do if I see a dog in a hot car?
If the dog looks to be at all in distress you should call the police. Nearly every city and state has different laws for how to deal with dogs in hot cars so while you might think you’re saving a dog, the dog’s owner might just think that you’re liable for a smashed window. While you’re waiting for the police to show up, go into the store and ask a manager to try to page the dog’s owner over the PA system. Stay with the dog until the authorities arrive or until the owner returns. You should only try to rescue yourself as a last resort, if it looks like it’s in imminent danger.
6. What should I do if I want to stop for an errand while my dog is in the car?
There are lots of safe ways to stop while your dog is in the car. If you’re not driving alone, then have the other person run inside while you stay with your dog to keep him safe. If you’re alone, stop somewhere with a drive-thru window so that you can remain in your car with your dog. Alternately more and more restaurants and bars offer patio where they allow well-behaved dogs to hang out with their owners so that they don’t have to be left in the car.
Your dog always loves going along for the ride, and so you shouldn’t have to just leave him at home. With these tips for keeping him safe, you’ll be able to enjoy many great adventures together. Happy Travels!