Recent news has informed the public about the death of another dog that suffered from heatstroke after overheating in a car. Though you may be shaking your head thinking, “Despite all of the media attention, are people still leaving their animals in vehicles?” – the answer is yes! In fact, the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society received and responded to 20 telephone calls over the Canada Day weekend concerning dogs that had been left in cars. Sadly, one of the cases resulted in the death of a dog that succumbed to heatstroke. The story was reminiscent of the dog that suffered fatal heatstroke two summers ago in the Vaughan Mills parking lot.

dog on beach

The average dog’s body temperature sits at 38°C. The highest temperature that a dog can withstand is 41°C – and only for a short period of time before they begin to suffer from heatstroke. Unfortunately, unlike humans, animals do not have the ability to sweat, which is our body’s natural defense against overheating. Even if a vehicle is parked in the shade with the windows cracked open, the temperature in the vehicle can reach 50°C warmer than outside within one hour! After 10 minutes of being in a vehicle, your dog is severely at risk of heatstroke. In fact, seconds is all that’s needed for a dog’s internal temperature to start climbing.


Some warning signs that your dog is overheating are: excessive panting, rapid pulse, drooling, shaking, unsteady gait, seizing, and vomiting. If your dog appears to exhibit any these signs, immediately move your dog to a cool and shady place and wet the dog with lukewarm water. Provide cool water for your dog to drink and head over to our clinic. If we are not open, please go to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital. Emergency clinics in the GTA can be found on our Resources link.

July 10.14 - Shaded dog

The moral of the story is to leave your pets at home, even if you plan on being “just a moment”. It is more kind to your canine companion to be left alone at home than to put their lives at risk over a trip to the store.