Get your 'No Pets in Hot Cars' decal - BC SPCA
Search by
postal code:
Search our site:

Animal Helpline:


For all other calls and inquiries
see our contact details.

Find a BC SPCA location in your area:

Get your ‘No Pets in Hot Cars’ decal

Thank you for your interest, this offer is now closed.

How long is too long in a hot or warm car?

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, harmful, and even life-threatening effects can occur in a short time in a hot car. Dogs can’t release heat by sweating, as humans do, so their internal body temperature rises more quickly.

Some dogs, including senior pets and those with flatter faces, experience even more challenges in hot weather. At the end of the day, it’s best to simply leave your dog at home where there’s more space, water and shade.

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 not showing signs of distress, but you are concerned, you may wish to stay by the vehicle to monitor the situation until the owner returns.
  • If the animal is showing clear signs of heatstroke or other distress symptoms, call your local animal control agency, police, RCMP or the BC SPCA Call Centre at  1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible. The BC SPCA has a limited number of constables – if one is not available in the area the Call Centre can advise you about other emergency numbers to call so that help will arrive as quickly as possible.

What not to do

Do NOT 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.

What to do if your pet is showing signs of heatstroke:

  • Move your pet 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 your pet to promote evaporation. This cools the blood, helping to reduce the animal’s core temperature;
  • Allow your pet to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available);
  • Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.