Warm weather can be very pleasant when outside. But a mild 68°F (20°C) degrees can turn the car into a heat trap very fast. Dogs that are left in a locked car can find themselves in a life-threating situation all too quickly.
With a constant outside temperature of 68°F (20°C), the inside temperature of the car can rise to around 75°F (24°C) within five minutes, to 82°F (28°C) in 10 minutes, to 97°F (36°C) in 30 minutes and to 115°F (46°C) within an hour! When temperatures are higher than 82°F (28°C) a dog will have trouble cooling itself down naturally by panting and the chance of heat stroke rises. As the normal body temperature of dogs is 99.5 - 102.2 Fahrenheit (37.5 - 39 degrees Celsius), a warm car recording a temperature of 109°F (43°C) can result in a dog suffering from multiple organ failure and possibly even death.
Temperatures can rise rapidly in cars
We appeal to all dog owners, to never leave their dog in the car in warm weather, not even for a few minutes!
Rolling the windows down, or parking in the shade will only help in the short term but will not prevent temperatures rising and the heat can still cause heat stroke and other ailments.
FOUR PAWS advises owners to never leave dogs in the car but instead leave dogs at home where they can stay safe, and cool as the temperature rises. Find out more about traveling safely with your dog by car here.
Finding the dog's owner
If you find a dog trapped in a car on a warm day, you should act immediately. First, try to find the owner. For example, by speaking to local residents close to the car to find out if they know who the car belongs to or by asking local shops/shopping centers to request the owner via the shop/center audio system. Mobilize a few people to help, at least one person should stay with the dog to monitor their condition.
Call the police
If the dog is in danger of heatstroke, you should call the police. They are authorized to break the car window to save the dog. If the condition of the dog worsens before the police arrives and the owner cannot be located despite searching for them, breaking the car window is the only life saving option remaining. Before breaking the window, do take pictures or videos showing the animal’s condition and have at least one other witness with you as property damage may apply.
Early signs of heat stoke
Neck is elongated,
Tongue is stuck out far.
Signs of immediate heat stroke
In case the dog is convulsing, trembling or is already unconscious, there is no time to lose, the dog is in extreme danger. You need to remove the dog from the car and administer care to help save its life.
First aid measures in case of heat stroke:
- Regardless of whether the dog is conscious or already unconscious, bring the dog to a cool area (shade).
If the dog is conscious:
- Carefully cool the dog down with fresh water (do NOT use ice cold water).
- Starting at the paws and limbs, before cooling down the loins, lower abdomen, and neck.
- Offer water to drink.
- Contact a veterinarian immediately!
If the dog is unconscious:
- Bring the dog into a stable side position (on its right side – to decrease strain on the heart),
- Stretch the neck forward and up,
- Pull out the tongue,
- Cover the dog with moist towels if possible,
- Contact the veterinarian immediately!
And remember never leave your dog in the car on a warm day!
Hitzschlag bei Hunden. (n.d.). Tierarzt Dr. Hölter. Retrieved 21 January 2021, from https://www.drhoelter.de/tierarzt/tierkrankheiten/hitzschlag-bei-hunden.html
Heat Stroke in Dogs. (n.d.). Vca_corporate. Retrieved 21 January 2021, from vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs
Grundstein, A., Meentemeyer, V., & Dowd, J. (2009). Maximum Vehicle Car Temperatures under Different Meteorological Conditions. International Journal of Biometeorology, 53, 255–261. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-009-0211-x
Egal, ob hell oder dunkel: Innentemperatur steigt bis 60 Grad. (n.d.). Retrieved 21 January 2021, from https://presse.adac.de/meldungen/adac-ev/technik/hitze-im-auto.html
Hitzeentwicklung im Auto nach Zeit und Außentemperatur. (n.d.). Statista. Retrieved 21 January 2021, from https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1031883/umfrage/entwicklung-der-temperatur-im-auto-nach-standzeit-und-aussentemperatur/