How Hot is Too Hot for a Dog in a Car?

Written by: BARK

August 16, 2023

As responsible pet owners, we cherish the joy and companionship that our beloved dogs bring into our lives. Ensuring their well-being is important, especially when the scorching summer sun poses a significant threat to our furry friends. Leaving dogs in hot cars can be life-threatening. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll understand the dangers of this practice, explore factors affecting temperature, discuss legal and ethical considerations, and leave you with essential tips to keep your canine companions safe and happy during the hot weather.

Understanding the Risks

Dogs, much like us, are susceptible to heatstroke, but their ability to cool down is not as efficient. They rely on panting and limited sweat glands, making them more vulnerable to overheating. In fact, even a moderately warm day can quickly transform a parked car into an oven-like environment. According to PETA, studies show that on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 99 degrees in 20 minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in just 10 minutes.1 

Factors Affecting Temperature

Several factors contribute to the rapid increase in temperature inside a parked car. The greenhouse effect traps heat, and with no proper ventilation, the interior can become unbearable. Even parking in the shade or cracking the windows slightly is not enough to prevent danger. For example, dark dashboards, steering wheels, and seats can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200°F. These objects go on to heat the adjacent air through conduction and convection.2 This is because cars absorb and retain heat, turning any seemingly mild day into a hazardous situation for our canine companions. 

Legal and Ethical Implications

Leaving a dog in a hot car can have severe consequences, both legally and ethically. Laws and regulations regarding this issue vary by region, but in many places, it is considered animal cruelty, leading to fines, penalties, or even criminal charges. Beyond legal ramifications, there is an ethical responsibility to prioritize the safety and well-being of our pets.

How Hot is Too Hot to Leave Dogs In Cars

How to Keep Dogs Safe

Preventing heat-related harm to dogs is entirely feasible with a little planning and consideration. The simplest and safest solution is to never leave your dog unattended in a car, no matter how brief the errand may be. Instead, consider these alternatives:

  • Plan Dog-Friendly Outings: Only take your dog along when you can ensure their safety and comfort at your destination.
  • Leave Them at Home: If the errand isn’t dog-friendly, leave your furry friend in the comfort of your home with ample water and ventilation.
  • Utilize Doggy Daycare or Pet-Friendly Facilities: These services provide a safe and cool environment for dogs while you’re away.

Recognizing Heatstroke Symptoms

Knowing the signs of heatstroke in dogs can be a lifesaver. According to American Kennel Club, early signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, excessive drooling, rapid heartbeat, bright red tongue, weakness, and even collapse.3 Other symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation. If you suspect heatstroke, take immediate action. 

Responding to Emergencies

In the unfortunate event that your dog shows signs of heatstroke, act quickly. Move them to a cool, shaded area, provide water, and apply wet towels to their body. Seek veterinary assistance immediately, as heatstroke can be fatal if left untreated.

How Hot is Too Hot to Leave Dogs In Cars

Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

Hot weather requires extra care for our furry friends. Keep them comfortable and safe with these summer tips:

  • Hydration is Key: Ensure a constant supply of fresh, cool water to keep your dog well-hydrated.
  • Avoid Midday Exercise: Exercise your dog during the cooler hours of the day to prevent overheating.
  • Provide Shade: Keep your dog’s outdoor area shaded to protect them from direct sunlight.
  • Paw Protection: Walk your dog on grass or in shaded areas to prevent paw pad burns from hot pavement.
  • Cool Treats: Offer frozen dog treats or provide ice cubes in their water bowl for a refreshing treat.

Prioritize Pet Safety with BARK

As the caring and knowledgeable pet owners we are, let’s make a pact to keep our furry friends safe and sound during the scorching summer days. At BARK, we are dedicated to promoting the well-being of your canine companions, and that includes educating our wonderful community of pet owners about the risks of leaving dogs in hot cars. Together, let’s prioritize pet safety and share this essential information with others, so they too can take the necessary precautions to protect their furry friends.

How Hot is Too Hot to Leave Dogs In Cars

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

#1 How long does it take for a car to become dangerously hot for a dog?

Even on mild days, a car’s interior can reach dangerous temperatures within just a few minutes, putting your dog at risk of heatstroke.

#2 What are the signs of heatstroke in dogs?

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, weakness, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse.

#3 Can cracking the windows of a car prevent heat-related harm to dogs?

Cracking the windows does not significantly lower the interior temperature, and it does not provide sufficient ventilation to keep dogs safe.

#4 What should I do if I see a dog locked in a hot car?

If you encounter a dog locked in a hot car, act quickly. Note the car’s description and location, and contact local authorities or animal control immediately. Stay nearby until help arrives, as the dog’s life may depend on it.


  1. “Dogs in Hot Cars and on Hot Pavement | PETA.” PETA, 22 June 2010, Accessed 28 July 2023.
  2. US National Weather Service. “Children, Pets and Vehicles.”, 2022, Accessed 28 July 2023.
  3. Meyers, Harriet. “How Hot Is Too Hot? Heatstroke in Dogs.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 6 May 2021, Accessed 27 July 2023.

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Written by: BARK

August 16, 2023


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.