Keep Spot from getting hot: Why it's never cool to keep pets in a warm car
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Leaving dogs in cars: Avoid heat exhaustion and save lives

August 8, 2019

It only takes minutes to put your pet in a life-threatening situation when left in a vehicle on a warm or hot day.  Below are common concerns and tips to advocate for pet safety.

Sad dog left unattended in hot car

How long is too long?

Owners and caretakers may believe they’re doing their furry friend a favour when bringing them along on errands, but if they can’t bring their pet into a store they may think a few minutes in the vehicle won’t be a big deal.

  • For a dog, though, minutes is all it takes for them to feel the life-threatening effects of a hot car. At the end of the day, it’s best to simply leave your dog at home where there’s more space, water and shade.
  • Dogs can’t release heat by sweating.
  • Dissipating the heat through their paws is incredibly challenging in hot cars.

What you should do

If you see an animal in distress in a parked vehicle, here’s the steps to take:

  • Note the license plate, vehicle colour, make and model and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • If the animal is in distress, call your local animal control agency, police, RCMP or the BC SPCA hotline at 1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible.
    • The call centre is open seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
    • Emergencies outside of those hours should be reported to your local police department or RCMP.

What not to do

Break the window

While most people mean well when they say they’d be willing to break a glass window to get an animal out of a roasting vehicle, it’s strongly recommended you don’t.

  • Only RCMP, local police, and BC SPCA Special Constables have the authority to enter a vehicle lawfully to help a pet in distress.
  • Not only are you putting yourself at risk when you break a glass window, but you also risk harming the dog.

Leave the A/C on

You may have seen the sign on a vehicle saying, “the A/C is on.” Some may think this is an option, but it is not a good one. Your pet can still end up at risk if the air conditioning stops working, it’s not a guaranteed solution. It’s best to simply leave your dog at home where there’s more space, water and shade.

Dealing with pet heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting);
  • Rapid or erratic pulse;
  • Salivation, anxious or staring expression;
  • Weakness and muscle tremors or lack of coordination;
  • Convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If the animal is showing signs of heatstroke and you’re able to safely and lawfully move the animal out of the vehicle, do the following:

  • Move the animal to a cool, shady place;
  • Wet the animal with cool water.
  • Do not apply ice as this will constrict blood flow and discourage cooling;
  • Fan the animal to promote evaporation.
  • This cools the blood, helping to reduce the animal’s core temperature;
  • Allow the animal to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available);
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

How you can help

Carry a kit

  • Keep a kit in your car in case you spot an animal in distress.
  • This includes bottled water, a small bowl, a small battery-powered fan, and a towel that can be soaked in water.
  • If a window is partially open, hydrate the animal as you wait for an emergency response.

Share our infographic

Download this infographic and display it in your office, store or home to show how easy it is to avoid this situation. Forward it to a friend or even snap a pic for Instagram story!




#nohotpets infrographic preview

Share on your social media channels

  • If you ordered our limited supply decal – take a picture of your brand new car decal and help us spread the word!
  • Use hashtag: #NoHotPets and tag on Twitter: @BC_SPCA or Facebook @bcspca or Instagram @bcspca.
  • Click the share buttons below to tweet, post on Facebook or email this page to a friend.

Learn more

Learrn more about pet summer safetyLearn more about heat sensative dogs