Dog Days of Summer

By Rish Burkholder

Most dog owners enjoy taking their dog along to run errands with them in the car. The dogs love it. There is nothing like hanging your head out the window in a moving car and letting the breeze flap your ears or blow your whiskers back…if you’re a dog.

The “dog days” of summer can be dangerous for dogs — especially those dogs left inside hot cars. Every year, countless dogs die after being locked in cars while their owners work, visit, shop, or run other errands. These tragic deaths are entirely preventable.

It is important to plan ahead when taking Fido with you. What is the temperature outside? Will your dog be allowed to go in with you? How long will you be in the store?  Because many states allow only assistance dogs to be brought into stores or malls, you may be tempted to leave your dog in the car. This can be deadly.

A little heat outside a car can quickly make it very hot inside. On a summer’s day of only 85 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, even keeping the windows slightly open won’t stop the inside temperature from climbing to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and to 120 degrees in 20 minutes. A dog whose body temperature rises to 107-108 degrees will within a very short time suffer irreparable brain damage — or even death.

Signs a dog is suffering from a heat-related illness include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Respiratory arrest

Never leave your dog in the car unattended no matter what the temperature. Dogs can become bored, restless and destructive. They may find items in your car to chew on or swallow causing serious intestinal injury or illness. Leaving the windows down may keep them cool but a dog can escape and be injured or lost. .

If at all possible, find places that are pet friendly. Most pet supply stores welcome your pets if they are on a leash or can be placed in the shopping cart safely. Find restaurants that have an outdoor dining area that will allow you dog to rest at your feet while you eat your meal. Take a friend along who can keep your dog company in the car while you run into the store. Consider all the factors. If nothing else, please leave Fido home. When you return, you can take your four legged friend for walk or to a local dog park. He will love you for it and you can be sure he will be cool and safe while you were away. To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, visit

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