Home > Health Care - Dogs, Pet News, Pet Safety, Pet Topics > DOG + HOT CAR = DEAD… Get It?


September 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


Two recent news items in Minnesota make it clear that it bears repeating… Hot cars are no place for a dog. Windows cracked, windows open, sunroof open, shady spot, checking on dog occasionally – none of these will save your dog if you choose to leave it in a hot car.

I watched this on the evening news Tuesday night and was shocked, appalled, and… MAD. Here was a guy who left his four month old Akita in the car while he went to the state fair for 4 hours (in 90+ degree heat) and he was outraged that animal control confiscated the dog. Really?

Then there is our own Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mark Dayton, who left his two black German Shepherds in his hot car for 40 minutes (in the shade) while he conducted business at the state capitol. The temp that day was in the 90’s and it was humid. Luckily, the dogs were okay. Sadly, the media wasted a real chance to educate people on the dangers of dogs in hot cars.

So I thought maybe if people understood what really happens to a dog when it is locked in a hot car they will change their ways. So here goes…If you leave your dog in a hot car, here is what will happen:

– First, your dog will develop hyperthermia. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature elevates above the generally accepted normal range (body temperatures above 103° F/39° C are abnormal) – like what occurs when you dog is left in a hot car.

-As your dog’s body temperature rises, he will begin to pant heavily and he will start to sweat through the pads of his feet This is his body’s attempt to get his core body temp back to a normal range (100-102.5°F).

If he is left to wait in your hot car:

– His body will then start to direct his blood to his core organs (guts, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys) and away from outside (brain, limbs, etc.) in an attempt to help him. At this point your dog is in heat stress. He is getting weak and possibly dizzy. He may start to vomit. His body is starting to go into shock.

If your dog remains in your hot car at this point, he will go into heat stroke:

– Now his internal organs are starting to cook. He may start having convulsions. He may also start jumping around the car as if he is happy. He is not. He is in a panic. This is his last ditch effort to save himself, because his body is starting to shut down.

– Lastly, fluid will fill his lungs causing him to have trouble breathing. He will start to gasp for air as his body shuts down.

– He is dead.

– Time all of this took to happen? 10 minutes. That’s it. 10 MINUTESin a hot car.

– When your dog goes into heat stroke, you are past the point of no return. There is very little a vet or anyone else can do to save him.

– Sadly, you could have saved him by not leaving him in a hot car. But, you didn’t. Now you not only have to live with the guilt of leaving your dog in your hot car, but also the knowledge of how your dog died. It was painful. It was lonely. It was unnecessary.


Don’t leave your dog in a hot car.


10 minutes is not a long time.

Your decision may save your dog’s life.

For more information, go to My Dog Is Cool. This website has lots of good information and links to data demonstrating how quickly a car heats up whether you have the windows down or windows cracked open.

Share it with your friends. Maybe it will save one dog’s life.

Note: A personal thank you to Dr. Shawn Finch, D.V.M. and Dr. Daniel Beatty, D.V.M for their time and assistance in making sure the description of what happens in a hot car was medically accurate. I am indebted to you for your help!

  1. September 2, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Well done, Mel! Almost nothing gets me more angry than seeing this stupid stupid mistake. Nothing like murdering your dog for the convenience of getting “just a few things” from the store. Is it worth your dog’s life and living with that selfish decision – I think not.

    • Mel
      September 2, 2010 at 9:11 AM

      Thanks Mary. In this case, I’m not sure if it was stupidity or just plain ignorance.

      It amazed me to see the guy so outraged that his dog was saved by animal control while he attended the state fair. And, in the case of our gubernatorial candidate, he made the issue about a political attack instead of being caught endangering his dogs. Amazingly sad.

  2. September 2, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Nicely done, Mel. These types of event happen way too often and too many people claim ignorance. Hopefully, someone reads this and thinks before leaving their dog in a hot car as a result.

    In these two cases, the man at the fair should be thanking animal control for saving his dog instead of being outraged. A classic mixture of stupidity, ignorance and arrogance.

    The case of the gubernatorial candidate is even worse. As a candidate for public office, I would have to assume he has at least some degree of intelligence (although based on this, I wonder). Then to claim the uproar was a political attack…please!!! That’s an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

    • Mel
      September 3, 2010 at 6:50 AM

      Thank you for your comments Lorie. I heard the Akita dog owner on the radio today and sadly, he still believes that his dog was fine and that Animal Control should not have seized his dog even though it is state law that you cannot leave your dog in a car. His reasoning for leaving his dog in the car while he and his kids attended the fair? It was his day to have the kids and he didn’t want to ruin their day by taking the dog back home. How sad.

      On the positive, many people called in to disagree with the man, including one Akita owner who said the guy was dead wrong, especially given an Akita’s thick coat.

      • September 3, 2010 at 7:01 AM

        My feeling is that Animal Control was not our of line to seize this dog. I think they probably saved the dog’s life. As for the kids, how traumatic would it have been if the dog had not been seized and, instead, the kids had returned to the car with their dad to find the dog dead. No doubt the day at the fair would have been ruined for them then, don’t you think?

        I’m glad to hear that there were people who called to disagree though. At least some folks have some common sense and compassion for the dog (and for the animal control officers who were only doing their job).

  3. September 3, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Holy crap- I had no idea all this only took 10 minutes. Thank you for this info!

    • Mel
      September 3, 2010 at 6:45 AM

      You’re welcome Shauna! I think when the 10 minutes begins can be greatly affected by how hot it is outside as well as how long your dog is in the vehicle, but once the process starts 10 minutes is about how long before your dog can die. Not long at all is it? 😦

  4. May 28, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Thanks, Mel, for a frank presentation of a situation that happens unfortunately way too often. Spreading the word – again! Will share…

    • Mel
      May 29, 2011 at 7:31 AM

      Thanks you for reading it and sharing it. I hope that frankness will make many people stop and think before leaving their dog in their car or even taking them with them.

  5. Shar DogMom
    August 7, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    I will share this far and wide…. thank you!

    • Mel
      August 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM

      Thanks Shar! I hope it makes a difference!

  1. September 2, 2010 at 8:50 AM
  2. June 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM

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