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The Truth About Dogs in Hot Cars

Even 5 minutes in a hot car is too long.

We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t leave dogs in hot cars, and the warnings are even more frequent during the hot summer months, yet each summer DCSPCA receives dozens of calls alerting us to dogs who are unconscious in locked cars. Our medical staff treats many of them who are suffering from hyperthermia and heat stroke. Many cannot be saved.

How hot is too hot?

If you’re wondering how many minutes we can leave a dog in a hot car, the answer is none. A dog should never be left alone in a car for more than five minutes, and only then if the temperature is not over 70 degrees. Cracking the window will not prevent hyperthermia. On a 70-degree day, the interior of a car can heat up to 99 degrees in only 20 minutes. On an 80-degree day, it will be 109 degrees.

Leaving a human to suffer in that high heat would be unthinkable to most people. Because they cannot sweat, dogs are even more sensitive to high temperatures than humans. Flat faced breeds, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, are even more vulnerable.

If you see a dog in a hot car, act quickly.

If you see a dog trapped in a car, call the police FIRST, and then try to locate the owner at nearby stores and businesses. Police officers are the only officials who may break windows to save the animal—animal control officers are not allowed to do that.

If you are considering leaving your dog in your car, ask yourself this question: Is your errand so important that it’s worth risking your pet’s life?

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