Dogs In Hot Cars

It is beyond sad that this needs to be said, but every year many pets suffer this EASILY PREVENTABLE yet horrific demise. People still FAIL to realize the tragic results of leaving their dogs in a hot car. There is a lot of awareness about this, to the point that many stores will actually allow and prefer that you bring your pet inside with you rather than leave them in the car.

How many times have we heard, “I will just be a minute,” only for that minute to turn into 20 minutes? They did not foresee that the patron ahead in line picked up an item that had no price tag; the debit terminal was not working correctly; the patron ahead forgot their PIN number, etc. Before they knew it, 15-20 minutes had passed. Yes, it really DOES happen that easily.

The temperature inside a car can reach over 50 °C after only five minutes, when the temperature outside is 32.5 °C (in tests conducted by the RACQ). During this test, the inside temperature reached over 75 °C in less than two hours. The tests also showed that the color of the car, the tint on the windows or even leaving the windows open did not reduce the cabin temperature by a significant amount, nor did parking it in the shade.

With only hot air to breathe, a dog’s normal cooling process – panting – does not work. A dog can withstand internal body temperatures of 40 °C for only a few minutes before brain damage or death can occur. The older or more vulnerable the animal, the more susceptible they are to heatstroke or something worse.

Heatstroke – Early Warning Signs

Heatstroke can be fatal. Some dogs are more prone than others:

  • Dogs with short snouts.
  • Fatter/muscular dogs.
  • Long-haired breeds.
  • Old/young dogs.
  • Dogs with certain diseases/on certain medication.


Heatstroke develops when dogs cannot reduce their body temperature. Symptoms include:

  • Heavy panting.
  • Profuse salivation.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Very red gums/tongue.
  • Lethargy.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Reluctance/inability to rise after collapsing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of consciousness.


Heatstroke – First Aid

Act quickly, heatstroke can be fatal! If dogs show any signs of heatstroke, move them to a shaded, cool area. Ring your vet immediately.

Urgently but  gradually lower their body temperature:

  • Immediately douse them with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could use a shower, or spray and place them in the breeze of a fan.
  • Let them drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Continue dousing until their breathing settles – never cool dogs so much that they begin shivering.


Once your dog is cool, seek IMMEDIATE medical attention! Heatstroke can have devastating effects on vital organs.

So, for the health and safety of your pet, if you are even a little unsure of your itinerary for the day, please leave them at home.