What to Do If You See a Dog in a Hot Car

Posted by Tori Holmes

With the warm weather here to stay, the number of instances of dogs overheating in vehicles continues to climb. Do you know what to do if you see a dog in a hot car?

Nearly every weekend we hear a story about a dog that was rescued from a car after bystanders used whatever tools they could get their hands on to smash the car windows. But is this the best way to react if we see a dog left in a car?

While the dog's health and safety should always be the primary concern, consider these situations from the dog's point of view.

One moment they're sitting in their owner's car minding their own business and all of a sudden there is a crowd forming outside of their windows. Soon people are yelling and things are being thrown at windows until they are smashed.

At this point they're thinking to themselves "What is going on?! Where are my owners! I need to escape from this situation immediately!" Unsurprisingly, this is a terrifying experience for the dog that has no understanding of what is happening.

So what should you do if you see a dog alone in a car this summer? To avoid creating unnecessary stress for the pup, it's recommended that you follow these steps:

1. Is it real?

Make sure that it is a real dog in the car (you'd be surprised how many people find out they've "rescued" a stuffed dog). It may not be a dangerous situation like you think.

2. Is the air conditioning on?

If there is a dog in a car, check and see if there are any cooling mechanisms in place, such as window fans, air conditioners, or shade protectors or parked in a shady spot.

3. Save some information. 

Make note of the time you first noticed the dog alone in the car, as well as the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle. If possible, go to nearby stores and see if they can make an announcement over the speakers to locate the owner of the parked car.

4. Does the dog look hot?

Monitor the dog for the signs and symptoms of heat distress, but from a distance. Is the dog heavy panting? Vomiting? Then it is time to take action. The interior temperature in the car can rise to extreme degrees very quickly. When the dog's body temperature rises like that it can cause brain damage, and even death. It doesn't matter if the outside air temperature is manageable; the interior of the car can quickly become a deathtrap.

READ MOREThis Is the Real Reason You Should Never Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

dog in car

5. Contact a professional. 

If you notice that the dog is beginning to show signs of heat distress, contact animal control or a local humane society which you can give to an automotive company such as AAA that can open vehicles without damaging them.

If the owners return to the car and the dog is not showing any signs of heat distress, politely approach them and express your concern for their dog.

Again, it should be stated that a dog's safety comes first. If you see a dog in a car that is clearly experiencing heat exhaustion or heatstroke, and you're worried about it becoming a life or death situation, by all means, break the car window and get that dog to safety.

But this should only be a last resort. If there is a way to help the dog without traumatizing it or causing damage to the vehicle, try that first.

Overall, it's up to you to use your judgment and do what you believe is in the best interest of the dog.

Have you ever seen a dog left in a hot car? Tell us what you did in the comments below. 

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What to Do If You See a Dog in a Hot Car