Most dogs love the outdoors because they feel free to roam around and explore new places. But even though warm weather during any season is a treat, you still want to be careful if your pet is accompanying you while you’re traveling or enjoying the outdoors.

Pets, especially dogs, tend to get overheated very quickly because they don’t sweat like humans. So, even a slight increase in the dog’s body temperature can cause heat exhaustion.

It’s also very likely that you don’t notice the signs of overheating in dogs since they aren’t visible early. Without precautionary measures, chances are that your dog will end up having a heat stroke – recovery from which is not easy.

Understanding the Risks

Many indoor places like supermarkets do not allow dogs inside. If you need to fetch some essentials, you might have no choice but to leave your pet in the car. But this is not safe for your dog.

Even though the car provides shade, it can quickly become dangerously hot. You see, all the elements inside the car including car seats and dashboards absorb heat when exposed to direct sunlight. So if it is 73 degrees outside, the temperature in your car could be around 99 degrees!

When this happens, the dog’s body transfers blood to the gums, tongue, and membranes to transfer the excess heat. The process results in signs of overheating in dogs including:

  • Red membranes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reddened gums and tongue
  • Excessive panting and salivation
  • Rapid heartbeat

In this case, the dog immediately needs some water to cool off. However, if you get late (even if it’s a minute), chances are that the dog’s body temperature will rise even more – causing a heat stroke.

If you notice one or more of the signs above, here’s what to do:

  • Immediately move the dog to a cool area
  • Pour small amounts of cool water onto the dog to lower their body temperature. DON’T pour it near their head as they might inhale it, causing drowning
  • Make the dog drink water little by little
  • Unconscious dogs require urgent cooling. It is best to take them to a vet when this happens.

Tips for Keeping Dogs Cool in Cars

Dogs are great travel companions. But like children, dogs need to be taken care of while traveling. Even if your dog is not troublesome or demanding, you need to make an effort to keep them cool in the car and while you roam about.

beautiful female dog laying in car between front seats

Below we discuss some suggested tips for preventing dog overheating in vehicles. By following these tips, you can ensure that your dog remains safe in the car and while traveling.

1. Effective Ventilation

One tip that is a must-follow for preventing dog overheating in vehicles is effective ventilation. Here are some tips for car ventilation for dogs:

  • Keep the windows halfway open
  • Invest in a portable battery-operated fan for your dog
  • Invest in a window fence to keep your dog from coming out

When you’re driving around on a hot day, turn on the air conditioning. On a hot day with a pet, air conditioners aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity. However, if you’re leaving your dog in a parked car, you cannot rely on the air conditioner to stay running.  

Air conditioners are only safe to use when dogs are supervised in a parked car or if you’re driving around.

2. Cooling Products and Accessories

There are a lot of cooling products and accessories for pets available in the market including cooling mats, vests, and fans. However, these accessories and products work well only when used according to the directions.

So, whenever you purchase a cooling product for your dog, make sure that you read through the instructions and how to use it for safe car travel with dogs in the summer.

3. Hydration and Water Breaks

During the summer, it can take as little as ten minutes for your dog to get dehydrated. But you can’t take water breaks every few minutes while you’re traveling on a busy road. In this case, you can give your dog access to water by investing in portable no-spill water bowls. Don’t forget to check our about collapsable dog bowls if you need more information!

Besides that, experts suggest that you should keep monitoring your dog’s hydration levels every half or one while traveling in the car during warm weather. To check the dog’s hydration level, follow these instructions:

  • Detect your dog’s shoulder blades and tent the skin between them.
  • If it bounces back to the original position within 1-2 seconds, your dog is hydrated.
  • If it remains tented or takes a while to return to its original position, the dog is moderately dehydrated.

Apart from this trick, one sign of moderate to high dehydration is panting. You can also check the video below to get more information.

4. Shade and Sun Protection

Even though effective ventilation, investing in cooling products, and taking frequent water breaks can help keep your pet cool in the car, these are just indirect measures to help mitigate the heat effect. To tackle the heat, investing in a car shade and sun protection can help protect dogs from direct sunlight, minimizing the need for frequent water breaks and cooling products.

To ensure dog safety during hot car travel:

  • Get window shades to screen the direct sunlight
  •  Tint the windows
  • Get pet-friendly sunscreens for daytime travel
  • Keep note of the sun’s position to ensure that your dog gets a shaded spot throughout the trip

If you need further information, check out our ultimate dog care safety guide.

cute small dog sitting in the front seat of a car

Safe Travel Practices

It is best to keep your dog at home if you’re traveling in the hot weather. However, if you have no choice, but to travel with your dog, here are some safe travel practices:

  • Keep bottles of water in the car in a shaded area to keep cool.
  • Carry cooling products and accessories.
  • Keep the windows covered with shade or tinted to avoid direct sunlight.
  • Take frequent hydration and shade breaks.

Emergency Preparedness

If you notice any of the signs of overheating in your dog, it is important to move them to a shaded and cool region immediately. If you have water stashed in your trunk, you can make the dog drink cool water and pour it little by little over their body to lower their body temperature.

If your dog has a health condition and takes medicines, keeping an emergency kit in the car is a must. It should include their food, water, and medications.

FAQs about Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Car

How do I keep my dog cool in a hot car?

Keeping your dog cool in a hot car is essential to prevent overheating and heatstroke. Here are some tips:
Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car, especially in hot weather.
Park in shaded areas or use sunshades to reduce the interior temperature of the car.
Use air conditioning if available or keep windows partially open for ventilation.
Offer your dog plenty of water to drink and consider using a portable water bowl.
Place a cooling mat or wet towel in the car for your dog to lie on.
Consider using a car harness or crate to secure your dog safely during travel.

What’s too hot for a dog in the car?

A car can quickly become dangerously hot for a dog, even on moderately warm days. Temperatures inside a parked car can soar to lethal levels within minutes, especially in sunny or humid conditions. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for you to comfortably sit in a parked car, it’s too hot for your dog.

How long can a dog stay in a cool car?

While it’s safer to avoid leaving your dog unattended in a car altogether, dogs can generally stay in a cool car for short periods, such as during quick errands. However, it’s crucial to monitor the temperature inside the car and ensure proper ventilation and access to water.

How long can a dog stay in a hot car?

Dogs should never be left unattended in a hot car, as temperatures can quickly reach life-threatening levels. Even on mild days, the interior of a car can heat up rapidly, leading to heatstroke and death. It’s recommended to avoid leaving your dog in a hot car for any length of time, as the risk is too great.

Can a dog overheat in a car with the windows down?

Yes, a dog can still overheat in a car even if the windows are down. While opening the windows may provide some ventilation, it’s often not enough to prevent the interior of the car from reaching dangerously high temperatures, especially in direct sunlight. Leaving a dog unattended in a car, even with the windows down, puts them at risk of overheating and heatstroke.


Although dogs prove to be great travel companions, you must plan and be prepared beforehand for any emergencies that may arise.

This article presents important tips that you should retain while you’re traveling with a pet. This includes preparing your car to ensure that the dog remains cool throughout the journey and keeping cooling equipment for the dog’s comfort. 

Related Posts:


Comments are closed.