Things to do when you see a trapped dog in a hot car

You decide to bring your dog along as you run errands on a warm summer day. You need to make a quick stop at the market, so you park in a shady spot and crack open the windows a bit. Your dog will be fine for a few minutes, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong, maybe.

When the temperature outside is 80 degrees, it takes only 10 short minutes for the temperature inside your car to rise to 100 degrees, according to a 2005 Stanford University study – even if you’ve left all the windows open an inch or two.

In half an hour, the temperature can rise to 120 degrees. Parking in the shade doesn’t really help, since the shade moves as the sun moves.

“Cars get hot, we know this intuitively,” meteorologist Jan Null, who collaborated in the Stanford University study, said in a press release. “But this study tells us that cars get hot very fast.”

Dogs can suffer brain damage and possibly die from heat stroke in just 15 minutes.


A good rule of thumb to remember is that the interior of your car is about 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.

“Much like the sun can warm a greenhouse in winter, it can also warm a parked car on cool days. In both cases, the sun heats up a mass of air trapped under glass,” the Stanford University press release explained.

Also be aware that leaving your dog in your car on a hot day is considered cruelty to animals in 14 states, and you may face stiff penalties.

“Under these laws, police, animal control agents, peace officers and others may be authorized to enter [your car] by whatever means necessary to remove the animal,” the ASPCA warns. “You could have your car damaged, be charged with a crime and fined or imprisoned. It’s not worth it—don’t leave your pet in the car!”

For more tips check this out about how to keep your dog safe in a specified radius outside your car.

What to Do If You See a Dog in a Hot Car

If you see a dog showing signs of distress (for example, excessively panting and/or drooling; showing dizziness; vomiting or having diarrhea; or unconscious) inside a parked car, here’s what RedRover, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing animals out of crisis, recommends you do:

  1. Make a note of the vehicle’s make, model and license plate number, its location and the time you saw the dog. Also write down a description of the dog and any symptoms of distress he’s showing.
  2. Call your local animal control agency, police or 911.
  3. Shopping centers, amusement parks and other places usually have an on-site security office that you can contact.
  4. Ask the managers of nearby stores to announce the vehicle’s make and model over the public address system.
  5. If you can, return to the vehicle to help authorities locate it and to monitor the dog’s condition.

While your instinct may be to break a window and rescue the dog, RedRover advises against it: “We recommend that aggressive action including entering a vehicle without an owner’s permission be taken by authorities. Please keep in mind charges can be serious.” However, if authorities don’t arrive and the dog appears to be in imminent danger of dying, you may have no choice.

Also please watch this video to understand what you can do in these situations.

And as always thanks for reading!