Any dog is at risk when left alone in a hot car, but factors such as coat length can exacerbate the danger. Some length on a coat is fine, as it helps to keep the dog cool by trapping air. However, a coat that is too long can inhibit this vital process. Some dogs may require a slight trim in warmer weather, but don’t cut too much off as this can actually take away the amount of hair needed to keep them cool. Also, shaving the coat reduces heat protection from the sun’s rays, which can cause sunstroke.
Dogs can suffer more than you might think when left alone in a hot car. Organs can be severely damaged, and death may be the ultimate result. The initial signs of overheating are panting and dribbling excessively, whilst the blood vessels dilate to release as much heat as possible. The heart has to work harder to supply more blood to the dilated vessels, and blood pressure drops. Cells are unable to function properly if they exceed the temperature they need to be able to work normally, so organs such as the kidneys, liver, intestine and stomach experience thermal damage, resulting in vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Also, the brain swells and blood clots can form on it. Once 42.8 degrees Celsius is exceeded inside a car, a dog can suffer from irreversible brain damage, slip into a coma, experience seizures and even die.
In hot cars, dogs with long hair can quickly get into trouble. Rather than acting as a cooling mechanism, the fur traps heat when the temperature is too high, therefore making the dog even hotter. When they pant they lose moisture through evaporation, which can then cause dehydration.
Breeds that are particularly susceptible to these problems are native to colder climates such as Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Chow Chows, so extra care needs to be taken if your dog falls into this category. Nevertheless, no dog at all regardless of the length of fur should be left alone in a car, even if you think you will only be leaving them for a short space of time. If it is 21 degrees Celsius outside, within 10 minutes the temperature inside a car can rise to 32 degrees Celsius. All it takes is a couple of minutes for the car to become an oven, and the risks involved are increased with long haired breeds.
If you think you may have to leave your dog alone in the car at any time when going out, it is always best for them to remain at home where they can be safe. Even for just a couple of minutes, the risk isn’t worth it. Aside from the terrible suffering they would have to endure, you could be fined and prosecuted for neglect and cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Although it may be irritating to have to go back out later on, it really isn’t worth losing your dog.