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Keep Your Pup Safe: the Dangers of Car Heat

Published March 26, 2022

It’s great taking our pups on a drive with us. Whether it’s a road trip, a ride to Starbucks or the park, our dogs enjoy being with us as much as we with them.

As temps start to warm though, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone in the car, even if for a few minutes. It seems innocent enough, but evidence nowadays (and tragic stories) show it can become dangerous quickly.

What About Leaving the Windows Cracked?

Even on a 70°F day, a parked car can heat up fast. Within just 10 minutes, it’s estimated the temperature inside can easily rise to 89°. In 30 minutes, it’s estimated to reach 104°. And on a much hotter day, it’s going to rise that much higher.

But what about leaving the windows cracked? Perhaps surprisingly, cracked windows do not make a huge difference. It may reduce overall temps slightly, but a study done by WDAM has shown cars will still heat up to similar levels. This is because when the sun’s short-wave rays pass through car windows, it heats up the surfaces in the car. The surfaces inside the car then create long-wave infrared radiation. However, the car windows do not allow the longer waves to escape, trapping in the heat and turning the car into an oven.

Dogs Cool Off Differently Than We Do

It’s also important to know that dogs are especially vulnerable to heat, because they do not sweat nor cool off like we do. A dog can only cool off through panting, or by the sweat glands located on their nose and the pads of their feet. In a car with hot air, these are not enough to cool their entire body down. If the temperature gets too high, dogs become at risk for heatstroke, which can happen in just 15 minutes. And for breeds that have shorter snouts, such as French bulldogs or pugs, the risk of heatstroke is even greater.

Photo by kyrien

What About for Just a Few Minutes?

Maybe you’ve left your dog in the car before, and it’s been fine. However, a few minutes in the store, or a quick meeting with someone, can easily run longer than expected. We also all have things on our mind, and people can honestly forget they left their dog in the car. Tragically, dogs die from heatstroke in the car every year.

If you do decide to leave your dog in the car, we recommend using a remote starter or steering wheel lock, and leaving the air conditioner on. We also recommend putting a sign in your window that tells passersby that the air is on, and you’ll be right back. Several states now have laws in place to allow public officials to break into a car to save an animal if they think they’re in danger. Signage can help reduce cause for concern.

At the end of the day, we all love our pups and care about their safety, and it’s helpful for us to know just how quickly cars heat up, and the danger it poses.

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