You may already be aware of the dangers of leaving your dog unattended in a hot car, but what about when it’s cold outside? While it might seem safe to leave your pet in the car during the winter, there are still risks involved. Your dog may enjoy the winter weather and colder temperatures while out on walks, but leaving them unattended in a car can still pose a threat.

Risk of Hypothermia

In the winter, cars without heaters running can act like refrigerators, conducting cold from the outside. Cars provide little to no insulation against extreme temperatures, so while your vehicle may offer some shelter from the elements, it does not protect your dog from the cold. It is dangerous to assume that your dog’s fur will be enough to keep them warm in freezing temperatures.

If left alone in a cold car for too long, dogs can develop hypothermia, a condition where the core body temperature drops dangerously low. Symptoms of hypothermia in dogs include shivering, rapid breathing, sluggishness, depression, and dilated pupils. Severe cases of hypothermia can lead to cardiac and respiratory failure, brain damage, coma, and even death.

Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs

Some signs of hypothermia in dogs include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sluggishness, depression, and loss of consciousness. Breeds that tolerate cold temperatures better include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Saint Bernards. Puppies, senior dogs, and thin breeds are more susceptible to hypothermia.

Preventing Hypothermia

If you must leave your dog in the car, keep the stop as short as possible. Dress your dog in a winter coat or sweater, provide blankets for them to burrow into, and turn on the heat if necessary. Monitor your dog for signs of hypothermia and seek veterinary help if needed.

Laws About Dogs in Cars

Many states have laws against leaving dogs in parked cars, regardless of the season. Some states may prosecute dog owners for leaving their pets in dangerous conditions. Always consider the safety and well-being of your dog before leaving them in a parked car.

While your dog may enjoy car rides, it is important to prioritize their safety and avoid leaving them unattended in a parked car. Plan outings that include your dog but avoid stops where pets are not allowed. Keep your furry friend safe and warm during the winter months.

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