Can You Leave Your Dog in the Car?

Gone are the days when your dog could hop in the car without safety precautions. It’s important that your dog is restrained in a moving vehicle. Find out why and learn more to keep your dog safe in the car.

Leaving a dog in a hot car is illegal. If you see a dog locked in a hot car and cannot locate the car’s owner, notify on-site security personnel if possible or call 911. Learn more about the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car.


Petfinder: PSA – Pets Left in Cars

Download Transcript

Never Leave a Dog in Your Car

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 120F in a matter of minutes — seven with the car windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation when trapped in high temperatures.

This is what you should do if your pet is exposed to high temperatures:

  • Be alert for the signs of heat stress — heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
  • If your pet becomes overheated, you must lower his body temperature immediately.
  • Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over her body to gradually lower her body temperature.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet’s head, neck, and chest only.
  • Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Finally, take your pet directly to a veterinarian — it could save your pet’s life.

If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately!

You don’t just expose your pet to the dangers of heat stress when you leave him in a car, you also expose him to pet theft. Thousands of pets are stolen each year from unattended cars.

Taking your pet for a ride may seem like fun, but many pets prefer to spend time with you in the comfort and safety of your home. Explore activities that you and your pet can share at home and avoid taking risks that come when you leave your pet in the car.

If you must take your pet with you in your car, do so safely: Cats should ride in pet carriers, and dogs should have a proper dog car harness. When a pet travels, she should wear two ID tags — one with a home address and one with a destination address.