Some would argue that the correct answer to this question is “NEVER!” However, that may be unrealistic, and evaluating appropriateness can lend a hand to knowing when and when not to leave your dog in the car. With that being said, I will argue that “limited amount as possible” is the correct answer to the question.

With the summer heat continually rising, being aware of the temperature, as well as other factors could be the difference between life and death for your dog.


What is the law?

Many states have laws regarding this matter, the most common phrasing is: “No person shall leave an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or wellbeing of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food and water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Although there doesn’t seem to be a specific temperature defined as to excessive heat or cold, as well as requirements regarding ventilation- however, it’s safe to say that when you do leave your dog in the car (time frame discussed momentarily) you ought to have the AC on, or windows down, food, water, and in an appropriate temperature.

The punishment for violation of pet laws varies, ranging from a class one misdemeanor to a $500 fine.

How long, and what is too hot?

Days that are above 90 degrees, when the humidity is high are dangerous for your pet. Humidity interferes with animals’ ability to rid them of excess body heat. When a dog perspires through its paws, it’s often not enough to cool them down. That is why dogs pant. However, if it is hot, humid and close quarters (like a car) they are unable to have cool air moving into the nasal passages which then they breathe in heats the body, and as it expels through the mouth it heats the air.  Lack of cool air will result in heat stroke for the dog.

When it is only 70 degrees outside your car can get to 110 degrees in a matter of thirty minutes!

If you wouldn’t leave a child in an Eskimo suit alone in the car, you probably shouldn’t leave your dog.

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Diagnose heat stroke:

Common factors that are associated with heat stroke include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased salivation
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea

As heatstroke progresses, it can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death.

If you see some of the minor warning signs of heatstroke you ought to If the rectal temperature is above 104°F, begin rapid cooling by spraying the dog with a garden hose or immersing him in a tub of cool water (not ice water) for up to two minutes. Alternatively, place the wet dog in front of an electric fan. Cool packs applied to the groin area may be helpful, as well as wiping his paws off with cool water. Monitor his rectal temperature and continue the cooling process until the rectal temperature falls below 103°F. Make sure your pet also has cool water to help with the dehydration.


Some alternatives

If you need to just run into the gas station, consider having pet bowls and cooled water handy. Try to park in the shade, and lower the windows, or leave the AC on. For hot days outside, consider getting “cool” pet mats (pun not intended) that can help lower your pets temp.

Simply being aware and conscientious is the key to keeping your pet healthy, cool, and best of all, safe this summer!


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