Summer Car Safety for Pets

Things are heating up…

On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes – even with the windows partially open and parked in the shade, your pet can quickly suffer from heatstroke, brain damage, suffocation, or worse.

Outside Air Temperature (F)
70 75 80 85 90 95
0 minutes 70 75 80 85 90 95
10 minutes 89 94 99 104 109 114
20 minutes 99 104 109 114 119 124
30 minutes 104 109 114 119 124 129
40 minutes 108 113 118 123 128 133
50 minutes 111 116 121 126 131 136
60 minutes 113 118 123 128 133 138
> 1 hour 115 120 125 130 135 140

Signs of heat stress in dogs include:

  • heavy panting
  • rapid pulse
  • unsteadiness
  • a staggering gait
  • vomiting
  • a deep red or purple tongue

If your pet displays any of the above signs, move them to a cooler area and gradually lower their body temperature by sprinkling them with cool water. Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin area.  You may also wet their ear flaps and paws with water; directing a fan on the wet areas will speed evaporative cooling. You may offer fresh cool water if your dog is alert and wants to drink, but do not force them to drink water. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately – it could save their life!

If you see a pet in a hot car call the Animal Resource Center or local police department immediately and record information about the vehicle (license plate number, make, model and color). Alert nearby business in an attempt to locate an owner and stay with the pet until help arrives.

If you must take your pet with you in your car, do so safely.  Dogs should wear a safety harness or ride in a travel crate.  Letting your dog hang out of the window increases the risk that they could be thrown out of the vehicle during a collision, lose balance and fall out during an abrupt turn or jump out of the vehicle.