Cars, when they have all the doors closed and windows up, are almost sealed – there is some air coming in, but no current, meaning the atmosphere there is still. And when it is subjected to the radiant heat of the sun, it gets incredibly hot, without the possibility of ventilation. In a sense, it becomes a furnace.
Knowing this, would you still leave your dog inside it? The answer is probably no. But let’s delve further into the problem, and see if in case of an emergency you could safely do that, with no repercussions on your beloved pet.
Data attained by the authorities shows that the average temperature inside a sealed car on a sunny day can double in less than six minutes, and it can rise to exceed the comfortable temperature within 30 minutes. The hotter the temperature gets outside, the worse it will be inside the car, as logic tells us. On a warm summer day, it can easily reach a lethal temperature if you don’t open any door or window in less than one hour.
Even at night, temperatures can get too high if it’s a hot night and there’s no ventilation. Cracking just one window open could be inefficient, as it won’t create an air current. If you think you can open half of it and leave without worrying, you are wrong. Most people wouldn’t be able to stay inside a vehicle with no AC and without at least one window open for more than ten minutes.
Imagine that it’s much worse for dogs, who have a thick layer of hair and who can’t process heat as efficiently as us. In fact, the RSPCA in most states estimates a dog or a cat could die of heat-related causes in less than fifteen minutes in a sweltering day.
Dogs left in cars are at risk since they don’t sweat, meaning they cool themselves by panting. They expose their tongue which acts as a radiator, ultimately cooling down the blood. If the air surrounding them is heated, especially if they have restricted water access, it will be impossible for pets to regulate their body temperature.
In short, leave your doggie at home if you can. But if you really have to leave it unattended in a car, don’t do it for more than five minutes. If you’re caught doing that, especially if your car is locked, you can be fined consistently, and your dog might be taken away from you, depending on which state you live in.
There’s no analyzed data on how many dogs die in hot cars each summer, but the news are filled with cases where dogs were found dead in the parking lot and with images of owners crying. You should also note that if the police see a dog in a locked car, they will break your windows to get it out, even if it’s private property.
If you absolutely have to leave it there, at least keep the doors unlocked so they can be opened safely by a rescuer. Or if the dog is trained, keep two parallel windows fully cracked. Make sure you leave plenty of water for the dog to drink and buy a high-quality dog cooling pad since that nifty invention can be life-saving in critical moments.
Although electricity powers some cooling pads, others are made of special foam and super absorbent crystals which manage to hold a large amount of water. They use the principles of thermodynamics to cool down the dog. There are also models that will absorb heat from the dog’s body then dissipate it into the air.