Dog sitting in car.

Leaving a dog alone in a car is never safe. But when temperatures and humidity climb, it can be downright deadly. In fact, being left in a car is the number one reason for heat-related death in dogs. Summer pet safety starts with making sure dogs are never left in cars.

Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars

The temperature in a car can rise more quickly than you might realize. The temperature inside your car can rise more than 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise 30 degrees. That means that if you leave your beloved dog in the car for 20 minutes on a 70 degree day, by the time you come back, the internal temperature of your car is 100 degrees. 

What’s more, studies show that cracking the windows open makes no difference. The bottom line is that leaving your dog in the car is never ok. Even in the shade. Even with the windows cracked open. The risk is just too great. 

Heat Stroke and Your Dog

Heat stroke in dogs occurs when the body’s temperature rises over 103 degrees. The body normally cools itself by panting and (to a lesser degree) sweating through the paws. But in heat stroke, a dog’s normal cooling systems are overwhelmed, and organ failure and death are often the result. 

When pets have heat stroke, it’s a medical emergency. Veterinary treatment is imperative in order to save a dog’s life. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, take them to the nearest open veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

How To Help A Pet Left In A Hot Car

Protecting animals from an unnecessary death is a problem we can all agree to prevent. But what should and can you do, if you see a dog left in a hot car? 

In Michigan, you are – unfortunately – not protected from prosecution if you break a car window to save a dog. Here’s what you can do:

  • Take down the make, model, and license plate number of the car
  • Call the local authorities – the non emergency number of the local police or animal control
  • Never leave the car
  • Contact nearby businesses and ask the managers to make a PA announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the risk to their dog from leaving dogs in hot cars and will return quickly to their car if notified of the situation.
  • Get involved – if your town or state doesn’t have a law prohibiting leaving pets in parked cars, contact your local representatives and start lobbying for one. 

While 31 states have laws specifically prohibiting leaving a pet in a parked car, currently, Michigan is not one of them. However, people who do so can be (and often are) charged with animal cruelty (illegal in all 50 states).

If you have questions about heat stroke in dogs or about leaving dogs in hot cars, please reach out to us. Your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is ready to help!