May 15, 2020 4 min read

Heat stroke: Do not leave dogs alone in the car

Every summer countless dogs die in cars – through heat stroke and the ignorance of their owners! Just hop in quickly to get coffee or do some shopping… But in this time, the dog is trapped in the car and suffering under the heat, which not too seldom ends in death. Even with the window left cracked open, temperatures inside of parked cars increase steadily. This makes the dog panic and can quickly lead to heat stroke. Read more and find out how to prevent heat stroke and what to do in an emergency!


Heat stroke – What is that?

Heat stroke is a life-threatening, serious condition, from which both humans and animals can suffer. It happens when the body overheats and cannot regulate the temperature by absorbing water or sweating. Organ failure and shock are often the results of the higher temperatures.

Heat stroke can be caused by high external temperatures or through extreme physical exhaustion, such as running next to a bicycle. In both cases, the dog body cannot release enough warmth. Shock and organ damage are the results.

Comfort zone for dogs not big in summer

Dogs are among some of the most heat-sensitive animals and have a small range of temperatures, in which they feel comfortable. Outside temperatures from 70-75 °F in the shade make many dogs want to reduce their activity – instead they lay in shady places or on cold flooring in the house.

Dogs can hardly sweat. Only a very few and an insufficient number of areas on their bodies have sweat glands. Among these areas are the paws and the nose. Dogs regulate the body temperature exclusively by panting and drinking water.

Through panting, saliva and moisture on mucous membranes evaporate, and this lowers the body temperature of the dog. This system only works if the dog has enough water to moisten the mucous membranes. On top of that, dog fur traps in heat. At 80°F, this fragile “cooling system” brakes down.


Why is it so dangerous for dogs inside of parked car?

Even though a parked car may not be directly in the sun, at already 75 °F panting is not enough to regulate the dog’s body temperature. In addition, the inside the vehicle heats up very quickly – within a few minutes up to 85°F and more. Plus, there is no water for the dog to moisten his mucous membranes. Just how fast the inside of the car heats up can be seen in the table. It makes clear why it is essential that dogs are not left in parked cars on warm or sunny days.


Dog breeds prone to heat stroke

Under this heat, dog breeds with thick or long fur and also very heavy dogs suffer greatly, in particular so-called Nordic dog breeds, for example Huskies with their thick underfur, and heavy breed like St. Bernard. Dogs with shortened muzzles and crooked air passages – so-called brachycephalic breeds like pugs, Pekinese, boxers, English and French bulldogs – suffer in warm weather. Their muzzles are so short and the nostrils are so tight that they can only breathe in very little cool air and have not enough mucous membrane to ensure an adequate heat release.

Do not look away: do the right thing!

Especially in the summer, watch out for dogs trapped in parked cars. Do not be shy to act fast. Every minute counts!


What to do, when a dog is trapped in an overheated car:

  • At a supermarket parking lot, have the owner called out over the PA system
  • Get the attention of passers-by
  • If possible, document the situation, for example with a photo.
  • If the owner comes back in time, explain the dangers of heated car interiors
  • If the dog cannot be freed within a few minutes, call the local police and make the urgency of the situation clear!

How to help an overheated dog?

  • Gently cool the dog down, for example with a damp towel or t-shirt and carry him out immediately into the shade outside!
  • Since the dog is dehydrated, he urgently needs water – but not too cold and no ice!
  • Dampen the legs and paws: evaporation helps to lower the body temperature.
  • If the dog is not responding or cannot drink on his own, go to the vet immediately, where the dog can be put on an IV to regulate his liquids.
  • Vets recommend heading directly to the nearest practice with an overheated, stressed dog to stop any potential organ and brain damage.
  • A dog suffering from heat stroke is always an emergency and should be brought to the vet as soon as possible!

Not only in the car, but also walks during the hottest time of the year can quickly become dangerous for dogs. Running next to the bicycle or jogging side-by-side are absolutely taboo because this can quickly lead to heat exhaustion.


Already at temperatures around 75 °F, asphalt and darker pathways heat up to temperatures over 105 °F, which will injure sensitive dog paws! In such cases, the dogs must be taken off the dangerous street covering quickly. The best is to plan walks and sport activities with the dog around water, such as lakes and rivers, and in the early morning or late evening.


By BOLLI LLC  I  May 15, 2020  I  I  Follow