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Can I Leave My Dog in the Car During Winter?

Last Updated on November 15, 2021 by Dogs Vets

Can I Leave My Dog in the Car During Winter?


It is quite common to see dogs in cars with their owners, wagging their tongues and tails happily. Many dog owners enjoy spending time with their dogs and it is not rare for them to take their dogs on errands and some events. 

As much as many places are pet-friendly, most places like grocery stores, restaurants, and locations that make and serve food do not allow dogs inside to limit germs.

When you find yourself in a place that doesn’t allow pets, you might be forced to leave your dog in the car. So, how do you go about it?

How do you go about leaving your dog in the car during winter especially? Is it advisable to leave your dog in the car during winter? Read more to find out.

The Big Risk of Hypothermia

The truth is that as much as it is not advisable to leave your dog unattended in a hot car, you also shouldn’t leave your dog unattended in a car for a long time during the winter.

Many car owners feel like it is safe to just crack open the window a bit during winter with their dog in it while they go about their grocery shopping, but it really is not. 

There is a very high possibility of dogs getting hypothermia if they are left in the car alone during winter.

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Cars have very little insulation against external weather conditions which makes it very easy for them to get chilly during cold weather. Yes, cars serve as a shelter to prevent dogs from the elements, wind, and dirt, but they can’t keep dogs warm during freezing temperatures.

It is quite disastrous to assume that your dog’s fur and body heat will keep it warm for the duration of time you will be gone.


Sure, you can put your dog on a blanket, but that only helps for a very few minutes. 

When you leave your dog in the car for more than a few minutes when the weather is freezing, it can develop hypothermia. What most dog owners don’t realize is that it is quite easy for dogs to develop hypothermia.

Hypothermia in dogs starts mildly at first, but if not treated immediately, it can result in other very dangerous conditions like brain damage, respiratory failure, and sometimes, death.

What Are The Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs?

When you see your dog shivering uncontrollably and always looking for warmth even when the weather is not so cold, that is usually the first sign of hypothermia.

Some of the major signs of hypothermia in dogs are:

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  • Dilated pupils and weak-looking eyes
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Sluggish movement and lack of concentration 
  • Fluctuation in heart rate (the heart rate increases rapidly, then reduces just as fast)
  • Depression (your dog stops showing interest in things that previously would have made it quite happy and retained its interest for a while.)
  • Mood swings 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Fluctuation in breathing (breathing starts quite rapidly and starts to become shallower and slower as the hypothermia progresses.
  • Once you notice some or all of these signs in your furry baby, the best thing to do is to seek medical help as soon as possible before the condition gets worse.

What To Do When Going Out with Your Dog During Winter

The ideal thing to do is to leave your dog at home when going out during the freezing weather, especially when you know that you are going to a place where pets are not allowed. But, if you must bring your dog out with you, here are some or even give measures you can take:

  • If possible, bring another human along with you to stay in the car with the dog and keep the heater running.
  • Keep your trip as short as you can.
  • Dress your dog for the occasion; wear him a doggie coat or sweater.
  • Provide a lot of comfortable and snuggly blankets for your dog to settle in. Make sure you leave your dog on a blanket before you step out of the car.
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Understandably, pet owners love to take their pets around with them, but as a pet owner, you should have your dog’s best interest at heart too.

Prevention is always better than cure, and it is better to keep your canine babies safe and warm at home than to risk exposing them to harsh weather conditions.





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