Dogs in the car in the heat – an underestimated danger

In the hot summer months, traveling by car with a dog can be difficult, as they are particularly sensitive to extreme heat. If you still want to take your dog with you, there are a few things you should bear in mind to ensure that your pet feels comfortable on the journey and that it doesn’t get sick in the heat. You should not leave your pet waiting alone in the car in these temperatures. Dog owners who leave their dog in the car can face up to three years in prison or a heavy fine. In addition, it must be assumed that the dog will suffer damage in the car in summer if it is exposed to extreme heat.

Heat in the car can be dangerous for dogs

If animals have to stay in the car for long periods, this can be life-threatening for the dog, so you should not leave your dog alone in the car in summer . The dog’s life and health are at great risk, as these four-legged friends do not cope well with high temperatures.

Heatstroke dog in summer

How to recognize heat stroke in dogs

Even before temperatures exceed 40 degrees, it becomes dangerous in the car, the dog’s life is at great risk and heat stroke can occur. Dog owners can recognize this when they observe their pet, for example if the dog is panting heavily.

As dogs only have a few sweat glands, they can no longer regulate their body temperature above a certain temperature as they do not sweat enough. This condition can lead to collapse, and irreparable organ damage or cardiac arrest can also result.

If the animal stretches its neck, appears restless and presses against an open window gap, these are clear signs of overheating. In addition, the insides of the ears are often clearly reddened if the animal is unable to lower its body temperature. These factors quickly lead to heatstroke if the dog is not helped immediately.

Heat development in a hot car

The interior temperature of vehicles rises rapidly in summer and the sun can heat up the car enormously. Twenty degrees outside is enough and after just one hour in the sun, the temperature inside is well over forty degrees. As the heat inside a car rises so enormously within an hour, it is not enough to leave the window open just a little. You must ensure that dogs are not left in the car. If possible, you should always take your pet with you so as not to expose it to unnecessary danger.

If the animal is left in the car in such heat, the blazing sun can lead to acute danger to life. If the dog does not cool down as quickly as possible in a hot car, the owner can expect serious consequences. If the outside temperature exceeds thirty degrees, the consequences can be particularly serious. If the dog already has a thick coat or is overweight, it is extremely sensitive to overheating and an emergency can occur. According to the Animal Protection Act (§ 17 tschg), the responsible owner is liable to several years imprisonment or a fine of up to 25,000 euros.

Dog alone in the car in summer

What you can do to prevent dogs from overheating

Dog owners can do a lot to ensure that their pet feels comfortable during a car journey. Firstly, they must be aware of the possible signs of heatstroke; open windows and fresh air should be avoided, as this can lead to eye inflammation. A good addition is air conditioning in the car, but it should not be aimed directly at the dog and should not be set too cold; a difference of ten degrees to the outside temperature is ideal. Regular breaks and short walks with sufficient drinking water help the animal on the journey.

Can I break the window?

You often discover a dog in the car when it’s hot and wonder what you can do to get the animal out of the car quickly. Here, the law is on the side of passers-by, as they may be allowed to free the suffering dog from a car. You are not acting unlawfully and it is not a criminal offense, smashing the window is initially only damage to property. When it is permitted to rescue a dog and what must be observed is clearly regulated in the German Animal Welfare Act, or tierschg for short, if it is a justified emergency, the damage to property is justified. In this case, the rescuer does not face any penalty, the car owner can file a complaint, but in most situations this is dropped.

Before rescuing a strange dog from a car, you should first have the dog owner called out. This is particularly useful if you are in the parking lot of a store; the license plate number can be used to locate the owner at the store information desk. If the vehicle owner cannot be found, you must act quickly, because dogs can die as a result of the heat if they are left in an overheated car. Before you break the car window yourself, call the police or fire department for help.

If the animal has been rescued, it is important that the dog gets medical help quickly from the car. Take the dog into the shade immediately and give it something to drink. A vet can then check the animal’s condition and take action.


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