Summertime Heat Can Be Deadly for Dogs

Dangers of high temperatures on your pet

Dangers of Leaving your Dog in a Hot Car

Summer is not over, as I was reminded by my daughter who texted that it was 103 in sunny southern California, today. Temperatures in the 80’s, 90’s, and higher, can be deadly to your dog if they are locked inside a car. 

As a dog owner, I take for granted that everyone knows not to leave a dog inside a parked car in the summertime. For those that don’t know, this is a huge doggie no-no. The inside of a closed car can be 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. According to PETA, on a 78 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes. These high temperatures can kill a dog. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

How to Tell If a Dog is in Distress from a Heat-Related Illness

Where humans sweat in order to release body heat, a dog cools himself by panting and sweating through their paws. Inside a hot locked car, a dog can’t adequately cool himself. Signs that your dog is in distress from a heat-related illness include excessive panting, excessive drooling, increased heart rate, trouble breathing, disorientation, collapse or loss of consciousness, seizure, respiratory arrest, vomiting, and diarrhea. You can also tell by some physical symptoms including bright red gums, a dark tongue, and dilated pupils with a panicked look on the face.

What To Do If You Find a Dog In a Locked Car

If you find a dog locked in a car on a hot day, you might be tempted to immediately break the car window to get the dog out. Keep in mind that you can be held liable for the damages to a vehicle. Don’t panic and don’t over react. First establish the animal’s condition. Are they displaying any signs of heatstroke? Call the police, fire department, or anti-animal cruelty organization immediately and explain the situation. Take down the car make and model, color, and license plate number and give that to the authorities. Have the owner paged in the nearest buildings if you have time, but don’t leave the dog alone until the situation has been resolved. If the situation becomes critical and the police or authorities are too far away to help, many people will break into the car to free the dog. Just make sure you tell the police what you intend to do, why, and take pictures or video of the dog. Also get the contact information of witnesses to the incident, just in case any legal action is started.

The Hazards of Hot Asphalt and Blacktop

In addition to hot cars, another health hazard to your dog is hot asphalt. On an 87 degree day, asphalt or blacktop can reach 140 degrees. You might not even think of how hot that would feel on your feet, since you’re probably wearing shoes, but to your dog, that’s hot enough to cause burns, permanent damage, and scarring on your dog’s feet, after just one minute of contact. Rapid burns and blistering can occur at 150 degrees. Hot sidewalks, pavement, and parking lots can not only burn paws, but can also reflect heat onto a dog’s body, increasing the risk of deadly heatstroke.

Always test the sidewalk or blacktop with your hand before starting your walk on a hot day with your dog. If it’s too hot on your hand, it’s going to be too hot on your dog’s feet. Instead, walk early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler. Always carry water with you and take frequent breaks in shady spots to give your dog a drink. On hot days, don’t make your dog wear a muzzle around their nose and mouth that can restrict their breathing.

Summertime can be a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your dog. But keep in mind that heat and high temperatures can be deadly. Help spread the word about the dangers of high temperatures with friends who have dogs by sharing the great infographic below from our friends at

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