How long can my dog be in a hot car?
Use common sense if you leave your dog alone in a hot car
How long can my dog be in a hot car?
It’s not abusive to leave a dog in the car under the right circumstances.
Although newspapers and blogs seem to think some of us have never heard how lethal a hot car can be, it’s not news to dog owners that car temperatures can kill.
There are different statistics out there on how long it takes for a dog to die in a car. The majority say it takes 15 minutes when the car is parked in the sun on a 78-degree day or hotter.
The problem is, people believe what they hear, and 15 minutes is thrown around like a magic number.
Some dogs are OK being left in the car for 15 minutes. Others are not.
A dog can begin suffering within two minutes of being left in a hot car. After all, dogs have fur coats, and they can only sweat through their feet. It doesn’t take certain breeds long to become uncomfortable in the heat. A black, overweight pug is going to be a lot worse off than a healthy yellow lab.
It’s easy to lose track of time. People forget.
Ten minutes at the mall can easily turn into a half-hour. Five minutes at the bank can easily turn into 20 minutes of waiting. Those are the kinds of mistakes we make. We think we have 15 minutes. We think 15 minutes is enough time.
I would never leave my mutt Ace alone in a hot car. He’s black, and he overheats easier than most dogs. But to say I should never leave my dog in the car is generalizing too much.
I live in North Dakota.
The average high temperature in Fargo is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or lower from October through April, according to weather.com. Even though my dog is black, he has short hair and he’s in good shape. I know my dog well and what is safe and what isn’t safe for him. I have a feeling there are a lot of other dog owners out there just like me who are sick of being harassed for bringing their dogs along and leaving them in the car.
I love to bring Ace along on errands. He spends a lot of time waiting for me in the back seat, especially during the fall and spring when it’s not too hot or too cold. To say I should never leave my dog in the car at all would be unfortunate.
Ace has waited for me while I go to dinner, while I shop or while I run other dogs. When Ace is left home alone, I guarantee you he sleeps the entire time. But while he stays in the car, he is looking out at new surroundings and experiencing new things. Millions of dogs spend eight or more hours a day in a kennel. Two hours in the car is not going to kill my dog.
Dogs love a good car ride.
There’s this thing called common sense that people seem to be lacking on both sides of this issue. Yes, a hot car will kill a dog (or toddler). No matter what, there are going to be times when people make mistakes. But cars aren’t always hot, and most dogs love the car, even if that means waiting while their owners run a few errands.
Just last week I was visiting my Grandma in a small Minnesota town. My Grandma is not a dog person, but she did know her statistics on how hot cars can kill dogs. She was concerned when I left Ace out in the car for 15 minutes when I got to her house (although she didn’t invite him inside). And later, she was concerned while Ace waited in the car for a half-hour while we went to lunch.
I knew very well that my dog would be fine. I also parked by a window so I could see him from my table in the restaurant. It was maybe 70 degrees with some wind and I had the windows down part way. I’m an (overly) concerned dog owner, so I even went out to check on Ace during the middle of my lunch. My mutt was totally relaxed, not even panting and sitting in the sun (he had the option of shade).
“Oh, hi. Did you bring me some food?”
Yeah, my dog was really suffering.
Get That Mutt’s newsletter in your inbox: