Can I Leave My Dog In The Car At Night?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

It’s not illegal to leave your dog in your car. If your dog becomes ill or dies as a result of being left unattended you will be charged with animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. If convicted you could receive up to six months in prison a fine and a ban on keeping animals.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Can I Leave My Dog In The Car At Night?“.

Please do not get mad at me before hearing me out. Firstly I love my dogs and I am also aware that leaving them in the car might not be safe. While I am sympathetic to other owners who must leave their dogs in a car at night I do understand why they must do so.

Perhaps they could not find a hotel nearby that would accept pets or had to leave them at work.

There is also the possibility that they are traveling alone and cannot find dog-friendly accommodations. Only the owners situation can determine whats best for their pet.

If you ever find yourself in one of these situations you should be aware of the laws and precautions you should take.

Can you leave a dog in a car at night in the U.S? 

In a number of states in the U.S. the law specifically prohibits locking an animal in a dangerous condition. 

Thirty-one states have implemented this law as of now:

Arizona California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Illinois Indiana Kansas Louisiana
Maine Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota Nevada
New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina North Dakota
Ohio  Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Dakota
Tennessee Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia

Thirty-one states are currently implementing tougher animal welfare laws.

There are some states that do not technically prohibit owners from leaving their dogs in a car but they still have local ordinances that prevent abuse and cruelty to animals. If you leave your dog in a car without protection from extreme heat or cold or if there is not enough ventilation in the car it is considered animal cruelty.

You should not be surprised if someone breaks your car window to rescue your dog since some states allow it and provide civil immunity (protection from being sued). State names include:

Arizona California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Indiana Kansas Louisiana Massachusetts
Ohio Oregon Tennessee Vermont Wisconsin

There are 15 states in the U.S. where citizens can smash their car windows if they see a dog in distress.

The state is pretty much the same as other states in the country. Its not illegal to leave your dog in your car. If your dog becomes ill or dies as a result of being left unattended you will be charged with animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. If convicted you could receive up to six months in prison a fine and a ban on keeping animals.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty says you should never leave your dog in a car even if the windows are left open because it is still dangerous. An enclosed car could quickly become unbearably hot or cold according to a study.

There may be instances when you have no choice but to put your dog in danger but you need to know the potential dangers so you can find a way to prevent them. 

As a result of heat exhaustion or heat stroke within the car they could become ill or die as a result of the weather conditions. 

Dogs can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve or brain damage and death. 

In the winter if you leave them alone in a cold car for too long they could develop hypothermia which can eventually cause cardiac and respiratory failure. Frostbite may also be difficult to detect and may not appear immediately.

You need to remember that some breeds are more susceptible to heatstroke or extreme cold. Breeds like bulldogs pugs and Shih Tzus may struggle to breathe in extreme heat whereas short-haired dogs may feel the cold more intensely since they have less protection. 

Additionally if your dog suffers from diabetes heart disease kidney disease or hormonal imbalances they may have difficulty regulating their body temperature. Hence heat and cold tolerance vary from pet to pet depending on their coat muzzles health and even their weight. 

It is also possible that your dog will suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety if you are away for too long.

Lastly if you leave the windows open in your car not only can your dog get stolen but also your vehicle. 

What are safe temperatures for dogs in cars? 

Cars are like tin cans in terms of how they react to extreme hot and cold temperatures – I mean that they get very hot and very cold very quickly.

In moderate temperatures (between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit) most dogs can still survive and thrive. The weather can get hot relatively quickly so we should not get complacent. Please ensure that they feel comfortable in their cars. 

The temperature drops to 40 degrees Fahrenheit when it is cold outside which would be dangerous for other dogs. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit it is potentially life-threatening.

Advantages of leaving your dog in a car overnight

After reading all that bad stuff I bet you think there are no advantages to doing this to your dog. 

In reality there are not many benefits.

There are times when leaving your dogs at home alone is not a good idea. Boredom can lead to trouble and danger when dogs are bored which is a dangerous situation. It is possible that they might get injured escape from the house or eat something poisonous.

You’ll save money by leaving your dog in a car instead of letting them stay with you in a hotel room. It is sometimes possible for your dogs to get overexcited and cause trouble regardless of how much training they have received. It saves you the time and energy of apologizing to other customers for their excessive barking in addition to saving you money.

In addition they might find comfort and peace inside your car since they might get stressed when they are surrounded by strangers or in an unfamiliar environment. In addition they can avoid loneliness and separation anxiety inside your car. Anxiety could also affect their physical state so you need to consider their emotional state. 

Tips for successfully leaving your dog in a car overnight

There are several ways to ensure your dog’s safety and keep you from violating the law.

  1. Consider doing this only when you are certain that the weather conditions would not put your dog in danger.
  2. Look into the location and weather conditions before parking. 
  3. Keep food and water available for your dog. Drinking bowls that do not spill can be used to prevent spills. Feeding them before leaving your dog can also prevent spills.
  4. Using a GPS smart collar for dog or pet temperature monitoring you can receive alerts if the temperature goes too high or too low. Once you receive alerts ensure you check on your pet immediately.
  5. Reduce the temperature of your car by installing reflective window shades.
  6. Rather than leaving your car window open use BreezeGuard or metal screen windows. Screens made by BreezeGuard are custom-made metal screens that fit your cars windows. 
  7. We provide blankets sweaters and bedding.
  8. You can also buy portable cooling fans for your dog. 
  9. You can also buy visible car thermometers. It would not help much for your dog but you’ll be able to calm down worried passers so they’ll know if your dog isnot okay so they can save your dog.
  10. Use crates with a lockable door.
  11. During your break check in on your dog if you had to leave him at work. 
  12. Create a disaster plan and a disaster kit to keep your dog safe in case of a disaster.
  13. Buy cooling pads for your dog or a cooling vest for your dog. 

Alternatives to leaving your dog in a car at night 

If you’re not sure if you can leave your dog in your car overnight then there are other things you could do. 

You can look on the Internet to find pet-friendly hotels or Airbnb places nearby then rent a room for you and your dog. Some hotels don’t ask for an additional fee and even provide a bowl and pet bed for your room.

To keep your dog safe you can leave him in a doggy daycare or boarding kennel if you have no other choice. You might not be happy with this option but do not worry since they have professionals who can take care of your pet. Make sure you do research about the place first before dropping your dog off there. Learn whether the facility has adequate space for your dog to walk around how many staff members are there and whether the fee includes food and other services.


It can be unfortunate to leave your dog in a car at night. In some cases the owner does not have much choice due to their situation and the needs of their pet. Instead of judging these owners lets assist them. I hope however that owners will only leave their dogs if they are certain that the weather conditions will not threaten their safety. To keep themselves safe they should plan well and ensure their cars have the necessary items. Finally they might want to consider other options such as boarding their dogs rather than leaving them at home.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Can I Leave My Dog In The Car At Night? (Watch Video)

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