Leaving Dogs in Cars in the Summer: We Debunk 3 Common Myths

Rescue Expert Blog

Summer is almost here and temperatures are rising across the country. Walks outside, afternoons spent at the dog park, and a good swim at the end of a long, hot day is what many of our canine friends love most. While warm temperatures are a nice change from this year’s bitterly cold winter, a hot day can quickly become a dog’s worst nightmare if they are not adequately cared for. Let’s debunk three common myths regarding leaving dogs in cars.

Dogs Love Spending Time in the Car

It comes as no surprise that many dogs love to go on road trips with their owners, whether it’s to the cottage, the beach, or even just the grocery store. What they don’t love, however, is spending time in a car while their owner runs errands, attends appointments or takes a few minutes to chat with a friend. While owners may assume that their pets are safe in the vehicle, this is not the case. Studies have shown that in just ten minutes time, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by 20º Fahrenheit. While dogs can regulate their body temperature through sweating and panting, they are unable to regulate their body temperature in extreme heat, enough to be comfortable. Heat stroke can quickly set in, causing pets to feel sick and organs throughout their body to become damaged. What may seem like an enjoyable road trip for both owner and pet, can quickly become one that is detrimental to the health of the pet if they are contained within a parked car.

Parking in the Shade is Safer

How many times have you parked in a shady spot to prevent the interior of your car from overheating during the summer months, only to find that the vehicle is still uncomfortably warm when you re-enter? While many pet owners assume that cracking a window and parking in the shade is beneficial for their pet, the interior of the car can still become unbearably warm. If a dog begins to overheat, they tend to pant to release excess heat and to cool their bodies. When they are in a vehicle that begins to feel stuffy and humid, two factors that cannot be prevented by parking in the shade, panting becomes challenging to do. Since dogs cannot regulate their body temperature as easily and efficiently as humans can, we need to ensure that we do all that we can to keep them comfortable.

It is Not Illegal to Leave a Pet in a Car

A common misconception is that it is the owners choice of whether or not their pet can be left to wait in a vehicle. In the United States, however, twenty-eight states have passed laws making it illegal to leave animals in parked cars. Furthermore, all fifty states have varying degrees of laws against animal cruelty, and animal neglect and abuse, despite the different consequences that are implemented from state to state. To further protect animals from becoming exposed to extreme heat in vehicles, eleven states have passed laws allowing bystanders to legally break into cars in an effort to free animals who may be in danger. The states who have passed this particular law, are;

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

While many states have not passed laws in prohibiting pet owners from leaving their pets in parked cars, more and more are choosing to implement these laws in an effort to further protect animals and care for their well-being.

This summer, educate pet owners on the importance of ensuring that they refrain from leaving animals in parked cars, no matter the temperature or length of time. Our pets love the summer months and the fun outings that come with them, so make this summer an enjoyable one for everyone involved!