Skip to main content


My Understanding of What A Dog Experiences Locked Inside A Hot Car

In my profile, I mention I have multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an incurable disease causing inflammation in my brain and spine.

Part of the MS package comes heat intolerance.

Temperatures that you feel comfortable in — let’s say room temperature (20C/68 F). That temperature or higher is hell for me.

At those temperatures indoors or outdoors, I start getting confused and disoriented. I might lose my balance.

Last November, I found out exactly how heat intolerant I was while riding in my friend’s rental car.

Toronto, CANADA – November 20, 2018: Landscape view of the city of Toronto with legendary CN Tower

November in Toronto rests between the fall/winter seasons. As you might expect, outdoor temperatures are low during that time. At the end of the month, we might experience the first snowfall. With the low temperatures, I usually put on a light winter jacket or layer my clothing.

In late November 2023, a friend returned from Florida to attend her family member’s celebration of life. “Celebration of life” is an updated term to describe a funeral.

After the event, my friend and her family invited me to a casual social gathering. We went to Starbucks.

That trip went well; I got my seasonal latte and consumed that.

Since we all had time, we decided to meet some other people who lived West of the city

During that car trip, I started feeling unwell — I had my winter jacket on, which I started to remove because the car’s heat made me uncomfortable. Taking off my winter jacket brought me some relief, but I still had a warm vest on and began unzipping the vest.

My friend’s partner was driving, and he kindly started opening the window beside me in the back passenger seat.

I appreciated the gesture, but at that point opening the window didn’t do much.

I vomited, at least 3 times. Part of the vomitus was the Starbucks latte.

At the time, I felt so disoriented that I would not have been able to write this.

Reflecting on that event gave me clarity about what dogs experience when they are left in cars during the summer.

The inside of a car heats up rapidly when the sun’s rays hit the car — I’m sure you’ve experienced the irritation of hot leather seats.

My choice of winter wardrobe, having MS, and riding inside a heated car were analogous to having a furred body and physiology that can’t get rid of excess heat well.

Considering my increasing discomfort as a human being in that moving vehicle, I can only imagine the distress a dog experiences locked inside a parked car during warm weather.