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Hot Cars — Is It Too Hot To Leave My Dog In The Car?

With the weather warming up, it’s time to discuss an important topic for pet owners: When is it safe to leave your dog in the car?

You may be tempted to leave your dog in the car while you run a quick errand or pick up lunch, but even a ten-minute detour can be unsafe for your furry friend depending on the temperature. We’re here to help you understand when it’s too hot to leave your dog in your car by breaking down some facts about keeping your pet safe in the heat and dispelling some myths along the way.

Dogs and Heat Stroke

Before discussing when it’s too hot to leave your dog in the car, it’s important to understand some of the risks hot weather can pose to your pet. The American Kennel Club emphasizes that all dogs are susceptible to heat stroke which can leave them disoriented, uncomfortable, and in severe cases, unconscious with kidney failure and other complications that could lead to death.

Any hot environment, like a locked car parked in the sun, can cause heat stroke. If you have a dog with thicker fur or a broad short skull (known as brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs), you should take extra precautions to ensure they don’t overheat because they are more susceptible to these negative effects.

When Is It Too Hot?

You may be surprised to learn that heat stroke in dogs can happen even when the outside temperature isn’t sweltering. While 70 degree weather feels comfortable for people, it can quickly make temperatures soar in a parked car.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the inside of a car parked in 70-degree weather can easily reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. In even warmer weather, idle cars can reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit in less than an hour.

You should never leave your dog alone in the car when the outside temperature is below freezing or above 70 degrees. And if you do need to run an errand with your dog in the car when the temperature is safer, you should be gone no longer than five minutes.

What About Opening a Window?

There’s a common misconception that cracking a window or parking in the shade makes it safer to leave your dog in your parked car. That’s not the case. Taking these measures makes little difference in keeping internal temps cool.

Your car is essentially a metal box that conducts and amplifies outdoor temperatures. This is why it doesn’t need to be exceedingly warm outside for the inside of your vehicle to become uncomfortably hot. It’s also why an open window does little to ventilate and cool a parked car.

The only way to ensure your dog is safe is by having someone else in the car with them, keeping the air conditioner on, and monitoring him or her for signs of overheating.

BetterVet’s Approach to Care

Car rides can be a stressful event for many dogs, and leaving them alone even for a minute can add to these feelings of separation anxiety. At BetterVet, our team of experienced veterinary technicians can come to you. Our Fear Free® mobile veterinary care uses tasty treats and our knowledge of dog behavior for a stress-free appointment from the comfort of your own home.

If you have more questions about how to keep your dog safe during the hot summer months, our vets are happy to help. Contact the team at BetterVet today to learn more about our mobile veterinarian services in Boston.

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