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.

How long can my dog be in a hot car?

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 long for certain breeds to become uncomfortable in the heat. A black, overweight pug is going to be a lot worse off than a healthy yellow lab.

[quote_center]It’s easy to lose track of time.[/quote_center]

Plus, it’s easy to lose track of time. People forget.

Ten minutes at the mall can easily turn into a 35 minutes. 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.

Know your dog’s heat tolerance.

Leave dog alone in car

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 used to live in North Dakota.

Fan to keep dogs coolThe average high temperature in Fargo is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or lower from October through April, according to

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 trust a dog’s owner to know what’s best for her own dog. Someone even suggested to me this fan for keeping dogs cool in the car. Hey, it could help, right?

I’ll make decisions about my own dog, thank you.

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.

[quote_center]Two hours in the car is not going to kill my dog on a cool day.[/quote_center]

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 on a cool day.

How long can a dog be in a hot car? Black lab mix Ace lying down in the car on his dog bedMost dogs love car rides.

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.

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.

[quote_center]No matter what, there are going to be times when people make mistakes.[/quote_center]

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.

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71 thoughts on “How long can my dog be in a hot car?”

  1. Yeah, usually my husband and I will take turns going in places and one of use will stay in the car with Gus with the A/C on or all windows down. Gus gets hot rather quickly with his very thick coat and few extra pounds. Fortunately, we have many dog-friendly eateries and other places in Los Angeles and take him with us 85% of the time. If we go out somewhere for long periods of time he is in daycare but never left in either of our cars. Where we live a dog should NEVER be in a car alone with windows cracked for more than just a few minutes. It can get quite warm in Southern California for many months of the year. In addition, we have rather strict laws to protect animals from being left in cars. It is much cooler where you are so you likely have a longer time span than I do for sure. You are so correct about the common sense thing as well! Thanks for another informative post.

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    I love places to eat that are dog friendly! Gus is lucky that he gets to go along so often.

  3. Great post! I agree. Every dogs heat tolerance is different. So many things determine this. I always say to people – Sit in your car on a hot day wearing a jacket or long sleeve shirt(simulating dog fur), with the windows cracked and inch or two and see how long you can handle it. Then maybe they would get an idea of what a dog has to deal with bn a hot car.

  4. as a general rule, i never leave my dogs in the car if it is really hot out. you never if you might get held up and be gone too long

  5. Thank you for writing about the dangers of keeping dogs in hot cars. Every year, dogs die after being locked inside cars while their owners work, visit, shop or run other errands.

    The My Dog is Cool Campaign operated by United Animal Nations lets people know that leaving a dog in a car for even “just a few minutes” may be too long.

    To order or download educational fliers and posters, or to enter your zip code and find out if it is too hot to bring your dog in the car, visit:

  6. Stewie goes in the car with me all the time.He loves to ride in the car and just to go where I am going. He is patient when I leave him to do errands and things. During agility weekends, the dog travel with us, and have to wait in the car at times. Of course I am very careful in the hot weather!

  7. Sometimes my dog Fred comes to work with me, which means he has to spend some time alone in the van. He’s got a crate, which has water in it, and I usually block the windows and open the sliding doors for him.

    If it’s really hot I don’t take him, as even driving around the car is uncomfortably hot. He sleeps while I’m away, whether he’s in the van or left at home!

    My greyhound is black, and never really settles in the van, so she doesn’t usually come with me ‘just for fun’. She’s also in the back, where it’s not possible to leave the tailgate up in case someone walks into it!

  8. Lindsay Stordahl

    Fred is lucky he gets to come to work with you. You must feel safe leaving your van doors open, but I would be worried someone would take my dog. I’m glad you bring water for Fred. That’s easy to forget.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    Use common sense. Would you want to be left in a cold car? Does the dog have a thick coat? How cold is it? Etc.

    My dog tags along with me in the car quite often in the winter. I don’t worry about his safety because i would never leave him for more than an hour when it’s below zero. But at times I worry about him being uncomfortable out in the cold, so on those cold days (today it’s -14), he stays home and naps on his warm bed.

  10. I think the big thing that people are missing that try to help with issue is how angry they get. I left my dog in my car in the shade, windows down, water, 60 degrees while I took five minutes (literally, I kept looking at my phone for the time) and got dog bones and coffee. When I came back out a woman flipped at me about leaving my dog. No, I hadn’t been planning on leaving him in the car if it was actually hot out, but this woman yelled at me and walked away too quickly to even explain things to me. I’m sure she didn’t want to start a fight, but I would have appreciated if she walked up to me and just said calmly “look it’s really not a good idea” and explained all the numbers to me rather than just yelling that she would call the cops. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure it’s appropriate in the circumstances? Really though, I’m a reasonable person. I would like it if people just talked to me. So I urge everyone who might get angry over this issue to stay calm and just educate people. Don’t get so angry and you’ll get better reception! If a conversation starts with anger, it will probably end with anger. Thankfully, I educated myself since this woman couldn’t bother to.

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    I leave my dog in the car all the time when it’s 60 degrees or below, especially if there is shade. I leave the windows cracked and he curls up and takes a nap and is not at all uncomfortable. I find that people are WAY too quick to freak out over dogs left in cars.

    At the same time, it is a very serious issue and there are a lot of idiots out there. Dogs and children die every year from being left in hot cars.

  12. I had a horrible experience at the local market. I had my daughter and my dog with me in the car, but took my daughter into the store. It was a hot enough day to have the air conditioning on in the car. I was on my way to work. I am a single parent, and work is close to my home. My home is not air conditioned, and work is, so on the hot days of summer, I am able and happy to take my dog to work for her benefit.

    On the way to work, a co-worker asked me to pick up a ream of paper at the store. I literally was there for I would say under fifteen minutes, but not sure how much under. I own a car that has a large sunroof that opens almost the length of the car. It’s a small SUV, so it’s a large opening that extends to the back seat, almost like being in an open tent, I assumed. Just for extra, I opened the two back windows a few inches, so that there might be some sort of cross breeze as well.

    The dog was in an open car, with three-way ventilation, I had thought, until the most insane moment of my life happened. My small daughter and I were returning to the car when we noticed a van parked behind us with a man asking us if this was our car. He was blocking us from leaving. He mentioned it was too hot for the dog. I was being nice, having respect for anyone who cares about animals. Every pet in our home was rescued. We have placed pets and found other people’s lost pets. Basically, my daughter is a dog nut, so we do appreciate animal lovers. I thanked him for his concern, tried to tell him the entire top of the car was open, that he couldn’t see from his vehicle, and he seemed to be staying in his car, but still not leaving.

    There was a car in front of me, but that woman had arrived when I did, and it looked like she was walking to her car to leave, which was very relieving for me, so I could drive out through her space. At the moment I opened my car door and my daughter opened hers, I heard another woman screaming. “She locked her dog in the car” and a red-headed, middle-aged maniac was headed for my car. I am not sure if she came out of the van. I have never had someone scream at me in my entire life. She actually tore my daughter’s door open, and stepped over my daughter screaming at me that I don’t deserve to have a dog, cursing. I was trying to speak to her about the top opening, and the windows and the amount of time I was not there, and that I loved my dog so much that I took her to work with me, but there was no way this woman could hear anything. Nor did she look up.

    I became frightened for my daughter’s well-being, and I called 911 from my Bluetooth. She was saying something about how she was calling the police, but as soon as I tried to move my car with her foot still in it and she heard the voice of the cops, she backed out, still screaming however. It was brutally assaulting, and I believe at that point I could have punched her or kicked her and been justified, but I do not have those kind of bones in my body. My dog was fine. The car was not closed enough to be heat containing. I think they saw me drive in with the dog, and went immediately to my spot. The woman who luckily pulled out in front of me knew how long I had not been in the store, because we arrived at the same time, so luckily she did not fence me in.

    Basically I was carjacked, and I believe by PETA people. I did not recognize either of them and I have lived in the very small town for 18 years. I called local code enforcement and told them to monitor the van and described the woman to them. When I got to work, there was another worker there who said the same thing happened to her when she was taking her mom to the doctor in another town. The top of their car was open and then all other windows slightly. She also had a fan and water for the dog. They trapped her and called the police. The police arrived and the dog was fine and they left, but it cost her an hour and a half longer that the dog had to wait in the car! They couldn’t keep it running, and they were afraid the people were going to kidnap their dog. Her mom was very sick and it was an awful situation. What is the point of all this? Just like the SPCA woman whose dog died in the car, I firmly believe these people are hypocrites. I am sure based on the way they judge fellow humans and behave in an inhumane way, without listening or knowing a situation to scare a little girl and trespass on someone’s property, they are deranged individuals who should be stopped.

    The man was fine, although he didn’t get out of his car to really assess the situation for what it was. The woman will have karma coming back to her very soon, I imagine. My dog is a springer, three years and counting. She’s a beautiful dog that we love with our life. I am glad the person who posted this blog is educating folks on the dangers of hot cars and dogs. And kudos to the poster above who has a campaign to enlighten people with posters, etc. But I am with the poster, Fenbar. To endanger a child and mother where there is obviously a healthy dog and not a dire situation is an extreme. To those crazies out there, assess the situation first before you go attacking people, screaming so that you cannot hear and possibly endangering yourself. If I was a big man, with some defense training, you could have been seriously injured. But hey, I guess if I was a big man, she wouldn’t have been screaming at me. But that’s a whole other injustice. I think I will buy a remote starter, for air conditioning in the summer, in case I ever need it. I know my dog has never been unsafe, but if it means avoiding lunatics, I’ll spend the dough. And my car will be nice and heated for those early morning school trips in the frigid northeast.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thank you for your story, Priscilla. How awful. I have never had this happen to me, but I often worry that someone will freak out at me for leaving my dog in the car. I do it all the time for 10-15 minutes and he is totally fine. Sometimes I over worry about him and come out and check on him and he’s not even panting. He’s just sitting there totally relaxed and not hot at all. Of course, I don’t leave him alone in the car when it’s 90 degrees.

    Of course, hot cars can be deadly. But people need to use common sense. The best thing to do is know your own dog well, and don’t take any chances.

  14. Don’t ever leave your dog in a car unattended. There is no safe threshold! It’s illegal in most communities. I find a lot of self serving excuses here. It’s just plain dumb. Call your police department and ask how many people get bitten by dogs in parked cars. So many think they know their dog but most dogs know their owners better than the owners know their dogs. If you’re in a restaurant watching your dog and it is fine, don’t go to the bathroom. Things can change that fast.

    I find this statement idiotic! “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.” People leave their babies in the car. You would think they would know better, but they don’t!

    1. I totally agree, John. I have just confronted a couple for leaving their dog in their car. You could see it was suffering. It was a car I parked next to at the supermarket and the poor thing was whining and panting when I got there. Half an hour later it was still there so I reported them to the store but, on my way back out they were getting in the car. Now I’m not one to be confrontational and maybe I could have been slightly nicer about it. I didn’t scream and shout but did ask if they always left their dog in the car on such a hot day for so long. The reply was yes and they hadn’t been that long and then the lady started yelling from the car how much she loves her dog to which I replied you can’t possibly to do that to it.

      I would never leave my dog in my car like that and would be so embarrassed and apologetic if for some rare reason I had to like in an emergency. If I have my dog with me and have to leave her for any reason I always take her out of the car and tie her up in the shade. It is so much kinder! Do they really think their dog loves them for torture? I had just come from the car wash and that was torture for just a few minutes, and you get hardly any air from a cracked window. Even waiting in traffic with the window wide open can be torture due to lack of air movement. Please, I ask you all who think 15 minutes here, half an hour there won’t hurt to try it yourself rapped up in winter clothing and see if you still believe it can’t hurt. I’m sure you truly do love your pets, but actions speak louder to the dog who doesn’t understand!

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    I disagree. I leave my dog in the car all the time. He loves the car, and I live in North Dakota where it’s usually not hot. He just lies down and goes to sleep. He doesn’t bark at anyone.

  16. I am with Lindsay here. I have also encountered situations like Priscilla and Fenbar in my community on 60-degree days. My dog loves to travel with me and go places like Ace does Lindsay, but he stays home now because I just don’t have the time or the patience to calmly deal with hysterics shrieking at me about my dog’s well being when he is sitting calmly and comfortably in my parked car.

  17. Finally! I just got back from a trip to the library with my very healthy short-haired, medium-sized mutt. He loves car rides but hates being left at home. We don’t have air conditioning in the house so it’s pretty much as hot in here as it is in my car, perhaps even more so since my car has AC. We live in New England in the country and the weather year-round generally suits our dog. I left him in the shade for about 20 minutes, with window rolled down, etc. It’s about 70 degrees and gorgeous out, even breezy, and the dog was fine. But, big surprise, I got a note. The other day someone called the cops. WTF?

    My dog is the happiest, healthiest dog I know, even more than the overly pampered (read: unhealthy mentally and physically) dogs I know. He gets tons of exercise, tons of attention, etc. In past times, I’ve resorted to leaving my own “fake note” to dissuade self-righteous do-gooders. Aaaargh! The note today had some gibberish about the 15-minute rule. I am so tempted to print out this blog post and put this under my wiper blade next time I run in somewhere with the dog waiting. I mean, heck, if he were allowed in, I’d bring him!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh, God … I don’t even know what to say! I’m glad you understand! My dog comes along in the car all the time. He loves the car, and I would never put him in danger!

  18. Quick glance up at Priscilla’s comment–this (to a much lesser degree) happened to me as well. I was blocked in by a crazy lady in Maine who kept screaming she saw my dog “going down” (like he was dying after 10 min in the grocery store?! with water and windows rolled down!). He wasn’t “going down”; he was laying down peacefully waiting for me to return with his food.

  19. Lindsay Stordahl

    Now that I have Cosmo here, I can totally see why your dogs would be fine in just about any cold weather! And I can also imagine how hot they would be during this time of year. Cosmo (American Eskimo) is always hot, even indoors with the air on. Poor guy.

  20. Lindsay,

    It seems clear that you live in an area with a temperate climate and that you are a responsible dog owner and dog lover. The truth, however, is that the issue of leaving a dog in the car occurs when the weather becomes warm, and warm weather occurs pretty much everywhere. I’ve driven through North Dakota when it was in the 90s, and the Interstate pavement was exploding from the heat. (Yes, it was great fun. Very exciting trip!:)

    The comments in the message thread make it clear that dog lovers know perfectly well dogs should not be left in hot or cold cars. I don’t think your article makes that point clearly enough, though. I think you’re underestimating how many ignorant people there are in the world; they’re the ones who will remember only the part about discarding the 15-minute rule of thumb, without remembering the specific caveats.

    For the record, I intervened after 10 minutes today with a dog owner who had left a puppy alone in an SUV–windows rolled down 2 to 3 inches–when it was 97 degrees out. (Heat index well over 100.) If that guy is irritated enough to google “leaving dog in car” and reads your article, I suspect he will feel vindicated, because he’ll see your advice that owners know their dogs better than anyone else.

    Although the man I talked to today was irritated (I didn’t go all PETA and hysterical on him), he tried to make a point by sitting in the vehicle with the dog under the previous conditions–car closed, windows open a bit–but ended up turning on the car and the air conditioning after about 2.5 minutes. I’m sure his reaction was, “Holy ****, it’s hot in here!”

    Personally, I don’t want to take a chance on being wrong about “knowing my own dog better than anyone else.” I do know my dog is happy and healthy when not locked in the car, so I don’t feel a need to make potentially incorrect assumptions about whether she’ll be okay in a locked car. Why tempt fate?

    Btw, I can’t believe you leave your dog alone in the car at all when it’s below zero. Sheesh, woman! Even my dad let his hunting dogs come into the house when it was below zero, and that’s saying something. (He transported his dogs to and from hunting sites by locking them in the truck. Argh. Guess they didn’t know as much about carbon monoxide back then.:)

    Not trying to harp excessively, but I do worry about opening the door even a teeny, tiny bit for the dumb-dumbs of the world. They seem to be growing in numbers. Or maybe I’m just becoming old and misanthropic. …

    Take care!


  21. Lindsay Stordahl

    I get what you are saying. Thanks for your comment.

    The people who are dumb enough to leave their dogs in a hot car are not going to be reading this post. The post was geared towards the rest of us who know how to use common sense. I’m actually pretty irritated by the people who freak out over dogs in hot cars – the reality is most dogs are fine sitting in the car for a bit. They are not going to die within 10 minutes.

    My dog is OK for a few minutes in the car when it is in the 80s. Sure, he might get hot but he will be fine. He’s not going to die with the windows down halfway while I run into, say, Subway, for a total of four minutes where I can still look out and see him. Same thing in the winter when it’s -25. God forbid Ace has to feel hot or cold for three minutes of his life. My dog is so spoiled. He means the world to me. I’ll still leave him in the car from time to time.

  22. I just experienced a terrible moment with my two baby daughters.
    I took our dog with us this morning to go to my friends house to walk/feed/and give water to their dog while they are on vacation. I love animals and gladly accepted to do that favor. I decided to take our dog with us because she barks and cries if I leave her home so I thought it would be nice to take her along with us. I have a three and a one year old too who drink milk and on the way back home I remembered we had none. I decided it would be ok to stop by the grocery store and pick up some milk. I always have water in the car so I left a cup of water for our dog and the windows all rolled down just a little less than half way. It took about 20 mins. (more than I expected but with small children, that is just the way it goes). I knew she would cry and shriek because thats what our dog does even when we leave her at home. When I walked back to the car there where two women standing by my car with the security guard. They asked me if that was my car and when answered that it was they immediately began scolding me saying I was inhumane and terrible, in front of my kids. The informed me that the police had been called and that I had disturbed a lot of people there. The security guard didn’t say a thing, the women where in charge of it all. I had never left our dog in the car before this and was honestly not aware it was illegal to do so. I assessed the situation and thought it wouldn’t put her in harms way to leave her while I ran in the store and got some milk. They absolutely made me feel terrible and like a criminal. Once I got in the car and held our dog I noticed she wasn’t even panting…..she just missed us.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s usually the case with my dog – he just lies there and he’s not even panting! Ugh … I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. Thank you for your comment. I know you take good care of your dog. I’ve also made some similar choices when working with foster dogs with separation anxiety. I sometimes choose to bring them along and leave them in my car rather than at home where they will tear apart their kennels, etc. So I understand your decision.

  23. I have owned couple different dogs and you know what I loved them or else I would have not kept them as our pets. My dogs like to go for car rides but I never took them when I had to go grocery shopping, watch a movie, or to an art festival. I find people start to think that dogs have rights, (they have a right to good food and a good home). I said it the other day “why if a kid is allergic to peanut butter the whole school has to be nut free, a person has dog allergies a nd the question is asked what is the dog suppose to do??”
    Aslo I want to say I yelled at this dude the other day. it was 29 degrees out and they were gone for at lest 9 minutes because i was too. He was so mad at me for calling it on him, he even came to my window and called me not so nice words. I know I was in the right, and so did any bysanders watching and yes I made sure they heard what was going on.
    So I say again avoid all problems leave your dog at home where you can enjoy him.

    1. I understand what you mean. Sometimes it’s just not worth it. As for your comment about 29 degrees, I hope you meant Celsius. But still, I leave my dog in the car when it is below zero (Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes all the time. He is fine, and he doesn’t have a long coat. I worry about the heat much more than I do the cold.

  24. With so many places that don’t allow dogs, it’s often impractical to never leave your dog in the car even for a minute. Sometimes it’s downright impossible.

    For example, when my husband and I drive up to visit my parents, we stop at a bunch of gas stations and fast food joints, none of which you could bring a dog into. We do some turn-taking where one walks the dog and the other orders food or gasses up the car, but there are also times we leave her alone for 5-10 minutes. If it were just one of us traveling alone with the dog, there’s no way we’d manage not to leave her alone at all. Even if we ate exclusively from drivethroughs, we’d have to go to the bathroom eventually!

    I think you should only do it if you can keep a good handle on your time, if the weather isn’t ridiculous, and if you’re willing and able to leave if you need to to check on the dog.

    While Sandy has a point, I don’t think we should pretend that it’s dangerous to leave a dog in 50 degree weather for 15 minutes, for the benefit of people who don’t realize that dogs have fur and don’t sweat except through their feet. If I make a nuanced and reasonable statement about something, I take no responsibility whatsoever for someone who reads half of it and overgeneralizes and then does something dumb based on what they assumed I said. I don’t think anyone is responsible for other people’s stupidity or bad judgment, and I don’t think anyone should be expected to dumb down their blog or their conversations in case the person reading or listening lacks common sense.

  25. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m going to keep bringing my dog along in the car while using common sense. If someone wants to freak out at me, then so be it. It is not illegal (yet!) to leave a dog in the car in North Dakota, so Ace gets to come along. I’m a lot like you. I take Ace along on road trips to visit family. Even when it is in the 90s, my dog can sit in the car while I run in and go to the bathroom quickly at a gas station. He will be just fine.

  26. I really like how Kelly summed things up. While Lindsay stressed that it is most important for people to know their own dogs and how they would be in the car, I do feel that a lot of ignorant and otherwise un-savvy readers will see what they like and use that to continue to abuse their dogs. However, it is not the job of the writer to censor her words for the idiot masses. I am relieved that someone brought it up, because while I can read this in a very logical manner and agree and disagree with what I will, there will always be those who are blind to reason and convinced that their opinion is right.

    I only really worry about leaving Spike in a cold car. He’s a little thing and gets cold easily, but when he’s got a fleece blanket and sweater on, he’s perfectly content to make a nest and nap or watch out the windows in the sun.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      If I wrote a post that simply said “Don’t leave your dog in a hot car,” no one would read it. We all know how dangerous a hot car can be for a dog. I won’t read any of those “news” articles or blog posts that say things like “Five reasons not to leave your dog in a hot car.” We’ve heard it all before.

  27. I’m not sure if I agree.

    Of course the dog loves to come with you. My dog runs straight towards the car when I open the door, and when I open the car door she just jumps in. I have left her alone in the car a few times (for a max of 20 minutes), and every time I leave her alone in the car I see how she’s trying to look for a way to come along with me, but she will settle down.

    Dog are social animals. If left alone for a long period of time, they can become depressed or even concerned and scared. It can be hard to read the body language of a dog. When the tail is wagging, most people will assume the dog is healthy and happy, but in so many other situations it can mean the dog is stressed out or angry. Even a sick dog can act happy as everything was OK. The thing about dogs is when something is wrong, they try to hide it from us, because a sick dog is a weak dog and will be on the bottom of the pack.

    I don’t think that many dog owners realize a dog left in a car for a long time can suffer from boredom, and if that happens everyday, it can develop problem behaviors and that can lead to a serious situation.

    The reason why the dog might not like to be left alone in the house might be a sign of a separation anxiety, and the reason why he is calmer when he is in the car might be that he knows you are nearby.

    I don’t think it’s ideal to bring a dog to work and leave him in the car for eight hours a day, even if he gets walks every now and then to do his business. He’s better off at home where it’s safe, and he can move around. The only negative thing is that he has nowhere to pee, but you can always call for a dog walker.

    Anyways, I walked by this car today with a dog in it. Five hours later, the dog is still there. I’ve checked on the dog every hour and tried to give the owner a call, but he doesn’t pick up the phone. I try to be nice, and he might have an explanation for leaving his dog for so long. No windows are open, and it’s quite cool outside now but he doesn’t have any water. I’ll give him another hour.

  28. Lindsay Stordahl

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave a dog in the car for eight hours while you are at work, either. That’s not really what this post was about.

    Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to leave a dog in the car. For example, I own a business where I take dogs running. For my afternoon appointments today, I swung by my house and picked up my dog before I went to the north end of town (we live on the south end). My dog waited in my car for about 35 minutes while I was at my first afternoon running appointment. Then he got to run for an hour at my second appointment and another half hour at my third appointment.

    Most days I just leave my dog home so he doesn’t have to sit in my car at all. I’d rather he was at home sleeping on his bed than sitting in the car. But when it works out for him to run with me and the other dogs, I bring him along even if he can’t run during every single appointment. In the summer, he obviously stays home.

    My dog is not at all stressed about being left alone in the car, though, and I know some dogs are very stressed about being left alone.

  29. I live in a small town where it’s normal to leave your dog in your car. I’ve never heard of people freaking out over leaving your dog in the car. It’s normally 40 to 60 degrees here. Rarely anything below or over. I just had a terrible thing happen to me though. I had a 10-year-old shitzu who loved the car. He wold get mad at me if I didn’t bring him. He loved being in the car even when I was at work, as long as he knew I was safe and all. So I had the back seat of my car stocked with blankets and food and water 24/7. He would get too cold if I left the windows open on a cold day, so I would rarely leave the windows open. I’ve done this for about seven years of his life. He’s been completely content and happy with it. But yesterday I got to work at 6:30 a.m., kissed him goodbye and that I would see him at lunch time, which was four hours later. It became a pretty warm day in the low 60s. I went out to give him a bone during lunch, and he was dead. He was on his bed and it looked like he was sleeping. He was old so I keep telling myself he died in his sleep or had a heart attack, but I can’t help but think I killed him. He’s done this so many times before I just don’t understand how it happened this time.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh my gosh, I’m very sorry to hear that. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes a car can get very warm even in the 60s if it is parked in the sun with the windows up. And older, flat-faced dogs do have a harder time staying cool. Still, it sounds like your dog has been fine for years, and given his age, he could’ve passed away from anything – his heart failing, a stroke, etc.

      Again, very sorry for your loss.

  30. my dog just died in a hot car when my dad left him in the trunk at our house by accident my family thought he was out side or in his bed and didnt bother looking and now the poor dog is dead and we all feel awful

  31. It is really irresponsible of you to advocate leaving any dog in any car in the heat. End of story. This ruins your credibility. Unfortunate.

  32. My dogs are both used to running for upwards of an hour on 100+ degree days. They are very heat acclimated so I’m not concerned if it is evening and there is a breeze, and I need to make a quick run to the store. But I am very time conscious and 10 minutes is about all the time I will allow. And I don’t loose track of that time. If the line is slow or there is any other delay, I will leave my stuff and go. If it is sunny and the middle of the day, then no time in the car is good for them and they stay home.

  33. Never leave a dog in the car. Screw “it works for me.” Just don’t do it. Can’t handle a dog? Find another responsible owner who can.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So you are saying that instead of leaving my dog alone in a car for even a few seconds, I should instead find him a new home? Yikes.

    2. Never? So it’s ok the through common sense out the window, deny your dogs rides bc some idiots can’t think?

    3. I leave my dogs in the car all the time. When I lived in VA they traveled with me to the store all the time. It was common in the country to see peoples dogs in the car while they were in the store. My dogs tolerate it well. I leave all the windows 1/3 or more down, give them water when I leave and when I come back. They sit in the heat all day in 90 and 100 degree weather while I am at work. My dogs are 7 and 5 years old. If the heat was going to kill them I am sure it would have done so my now. These sensational stories about dogs dying in the car are ridiculous. They never report the circumstances, maybe the dog was sick or very young, you don’t hear that, only about the cruelty of the owner for leaving the. I click the button on my car and my dogs run for the car to get in. I have to fight them off to get then not to jump in when I am going to work. People who write stupid stuff like this have no clue.
      Gloria Thompson (not anonymous)

  34. I have a 4-year-old Jack Russell that would rather stay in the car when I leave instead of staying at home. He exercises regularly and I leave him in the car for an hour or two hours when it’s not too hot outside, say 60 to 75 degrees. I check on him every 20 to 30 minutes and Remi is happy chilling in the car however long because he loves being with his master no matter what! It all depends on knowing your dog, his heat tolerance and that should tell you how long they can stay in a car.

  35. I’m pretty late to this conversation, but I’d like to put in my 2 cents! I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying, Lindsay. I’ve been taking care of my boyfriend’s sweet 10-year-old collie mix for almost a year now. Quincy has had severe separation anxiety her entire life – we’ve tried everything from the Thundershirt to kenneling, treat toys and calming chews, daily anti-anxiety medication – all to no avail. She cannot be left at home alone, inside or out, without destroying things, having accidents, or disturbing neighbors with her barking.

    She only recently became comfortable enough to stay at doggy daycare while I am at work or running errands for more than an hour or so. This was a huge deal for her!

    But if doggy daycare is closed or I just need to run somewhere quick, I take her with me. She loves being in the car! She is totally comfortable and calm, and happy to look out the window and nap in the backseat. I know her well – I know her limits. I have never put her in any danger by leaving her in the backseat of my SUV with all windows partially down, parked in the shade with a treat and a big bowl of water on a 75 degree day when I’m at the gym for an hour. She doesn’t bark, pant, or whine. She knows I’m coming back soon and would never leave her, and is perfectly content.

    People can get upset with me, but my dog is going to be just fine in the car for an hour or so. I would of course never leave her in more extreme temperatures, but I would rather have her safe and comfy in my car than leave her at home freaking out for an hour. She is very healthy for her age, gets daily 1-2 hour walks or runs, and is pampered like a queen. She just doesn’t like being alone, and the car is a comfortable space for her.

  36. Basically, we didn’t like leaving our guys alone anywhere. And on a hot day, I would stay in the truck with them, if we had to stop for something. And we did our best to pick early morning or late evening for traveling. For example, when going camping or to Jasmine’s ranch, we’d leave at 3 in the morning, to do our traveling while it was still cool.

  37. I don’t usually leave my dogs in the car…..but when I do, my husband or I actually stay with them, especially if it is even slightly warm. That way, if whatever business we are in starts taking longer than expected, we can get them out and comfortable. Honestly….my fear is someone stealing them. If I am in a building that I cannot see my vehicle, then I definitely won’t leave them. I know it might sound paranoid, but it seems to be happening more and more. Otherwise, using common sense it always good.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t think anyone would steal or bother my dog, but you just never know. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  38. Rather than say “he looks fine to me” or “I feel like he’s OK”, shouldn’t we consider some actual facts here? I have mixed emotions on the topic at hand, but I know for a fact that on a 70 degree dar, a parked car with the windows cracked becomes a 90 degree sauna in 10 minutes.
    That is a fact.

  39. My dog loves running errands with me! The rule I’m using is that is I wouldn’t be able to stay in the car myself without sweating a tiny bit, I wouldn’t leave my dog there. I live in Texas and on Summer days, my dog loves to lay down outside when it’s 95 degrees (he asks for the door when he could stay inside in the AC) for him to stay in the car when it’s below 70 degrees, it’s nothing! Above that, I wouldn’t leave him there. Maybe some people wouldn’t do it, but it’s sure not dangerous for the dog to spend 30-40 minutes in those conditions. I got so upset at a man who came yelling at me for leaving my dog in the car when it was 65 degrees outside with all the windows open. He told me he would call the police if I don’t go back to my car right away. I got back to my car, my dog was napping and it was 75 degrees in the car with a cool breeze! My dog didn’t even drink the water I had left him!!! At the end of the day, there’s a big difference between the choices you make for your pet vs what’s dangerous. Just like with children! Some are okay leaving their kids walk to the park alone, some others won’t let them do it until they are teenagers and would call CPS on you!

  40. I too am sick of people overreacting when a dog, no matter the conditions, is left in the car and the owner is automatically accused of being an animal abuser. I do not take my dogs with me and leave them in the car in the middle of summer. But I do take them with me when the temp is anywhere from 50 to 70, leave them in the car with the windows down, water and shade available if they need it. I get the thing about closed windows and heat. How many people sit in the car on a 70 degree day with the windows open, water available, and die from heat stroke? It took so long for folks to finally get the idea that closed cars get hot on warm days (how many babies have died in closed cars on a hot day), but the pendulum has swung too far the other way to automatic abuse, no matter the steps the owner takes to keep their dogs safe.

  41. We have a white miniature poodle. She’s upset if it’s too hot to take her when I run errands. She loves being in the car and especially guarding it 🙂

  42. Sandy Weinstein

    never leave a dog in a hot car. i even take a fan with me, b/c when the car is hot when you get in and it make take a few minutes for it to get cool, i have a battery operated fan. i also take a cool matt with me. you never know what is going to happen, your car may break down, so i always go prepared with cold water, cool mat, ice packs, fan, etc. that said i never leave my girls in a hot car. it is against the law in nc, however, the police are very, very slow to act or do anything. i have called them many a time when i have seen a hot in a hot car, left for over 20 minutes or more and they never responded. when i first got Evie i would take her everywhere. however, if it was hot, i would leave her at home.

  43. Mark j. Lopez

    “NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES” this statement alone is very disheartening and lacks overall compassion for your dog which you have the responsibility of maintaining the health and the everyday well being of if you are going to travel with your dog it should be a trip planned around your dog being in the car with you and out of the car with you if you have to make a stop where your dog has to be left in car then reconsidering the importance of that stop must be weighed against your dogs life so as for the mistake that so nonchalantly is acceptable at the cost of your companion is not a mistake but an ill hearted choice to place your dog in this position would you put a human friend in a position that could result in death I would hope not so why would you feel OK to place your dog in this situation

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