home / pet health + safety / healthy bytes / fetch! blog / why you should never leave your pet in a hot car
Default image

why you should never leave your pet in a hot car

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

I am always grateful when summer rolls around. I love hot weather and all of the things that go with it. Except for one: pets in hot cars.


Inevitably, at least once each year, I am faced with the dilemma of what to do when I see an owner leave their dog in the car (usually at the grocery store). Do I intervene? Do I look the other way?


This morning I read an article that mentioned the fact that 600 children have died since 1998 because they were trapped in hot cars. Forty-four of those children died last year. If 44 children are dying in a year, imagine where that puts the number of pet deaths.


When I read things like this, it makes me sad, because obviously no one intends for these things to happen. They are accidents. And accidents often happen because people didn’t know any better.


So, even though I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again.




I struggle each year when I think about the needless deaths of pets, and I wonder what possesses anyone to leave their pet in the car. Maybe it’s because they don’t know this: It takes only minutes for a pet to die in a hot car.


Maybe these accidents happen because the owner just wanted to run into the store for one item. But then they ran into their neighbor and started chatting and lost track of time.


I will never forget a heartbreaking case I never even got the chance to see my very first year as a doctor. I took a frantic call from a woman who thought her dog might be dead. Chief, her beloved German Shepherd, jumped into the back seat of her car when she got home from the store and refused to get out because he had heard her say “ice cream” and thought they were going for a treat. She could do nothing to convince him that they were not, in fact, going for ice cream and he stood his ground in the back seat. She drove around the block and he still wouldn’t budge. So, she left him in the car while she went inside to put the groceries away. And she forgot about him. For 10 minutes. She returned to car to find him lifeless.


Ten minutes is all it took. And it’s likely he died several minutes prior to that.


Pets in hot cars make me very upset, because it leads to senseless death. If this blog is depressing, if it makes you sad, or if it makes you angry like me, DO something about it. If you see a dog in a hot car, call 911 right away. If you’re near a store, tell the manager to make an announcement to try to locate the owner.


And please, please, please don’t be a victim of one of these accidents. If it’s hot (or even if it’s just a little bit warm), don’t bring your pet with you when you run errands -- he’d much rather stay home on the cool sofa, anyway!


*Petplan is petitioning the White House to create a law to help stop pets from dying in hot cars. Your signature can pets get the protection they need and deserve! Join our Driven to Bark campaign by signing the petition and sharing the link with your friends now!

Add a comment here
  • *indicates required field

  • read more »
Email sent Close

Thanks for leaving a comment on this page. It will now be sent to our administrator for approval and should be added to this site shortly.

Posted by Debra R.
on July 05 2016 15:48

A few years ago I saw a small pup in a car with the windows rolled up. Went inside the ice cream shop that the car was parked in front of and asked around. Some of the female members of the family the car belonged to started to verbally attack me saying that it wasn't any of my business, etc. Needless to say we got into a yelling match and I ended up calling the police. It still baffles me how anyone can be so thoughtless (and stupid) to leave a small dog in a hot car in TEXAS in JULY!! They didn't leave their little kids in the car but were dumb enough to leave the little dog. REALLY??

Posted by Lila Walker
on July 03 2016 22:15

I call the animal control people every time I see a dog left in a car. It's dangerous in Colorado to leave an animal in the car in winter too because the temperature drops so very low.

Posted by Jen Bervin
on June 27 2016 09:30

Traveling solo across the country with my dog, I notice there is no shaded parking and a no pets rule at most rest stops. In the heat this makes for a dangerous scenario. Talking legislation, a simple practical change here would make a big difference. Solar panels could both power a rest stop and provide needed shade. And pets should be allowed inside while their owners use the restroom.

If you want to protect your pet, get a quote!

policies by AGCS Marine Insurance Company, an Allianz company

our bloggers
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.