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Leaving the car running with a pet in the car?

Is there any reason (other than car-theft) not to leave a car (2010 Honda CRV) running with the air conditioner on for some length of time? There are often times when it is too hot to sit in a car or risky to leave the windows down. I’m wondering if it is hard on the engine or the AC for a car to idle for a long period of time. IOW, what would be too long? Thx for your opinion…

Define “Some length of time.”

Yes, engines are not fond of idling, for extended periods of time. If you’re going to make a habit of it, better to leave the pet at home, where he’ll be happier anyway. Who wants to be cooped up in a car for hours on end.

BTW, leaving a pet in the car with the windows down is a terrible idea. Temps in there can soar well north of 100 degrees even with all the windows down.

Modern engines don’t mind idling, they don’t build up carbon deposits the way old carbed engine’s did, but modern animals are no different from animals of our youth…it’s not good to leave them in a closed vehicle for extended periods. And should the engine die, the animal will slowly cook to death, not a good way to go.

As Shadow said, temperatures inside cars can get extremely hot. Please, I urge you, do not leave your pet locked in a car for any period whatsoever. Pets have died of heat exhaustion from owners that just stepped into a bank or store for a minute, ran into a friend, and returned to the car an hour later to a dead animal.

In addition to the valid advice that has already been given, I want to add a few points to consider:

In some locales, it is illegal to idle your car for more than X number of minutes while it is parked. Depending upon where you live, you could be in line for a ticket if you idle the engine while the car is unattended.

Unless your pet is securely restrained, it could bump the shift lever into gear. While this sounds unlikely, it does happen a few times each year–with very unfortunate results.

I like to take my dog for a ride as often as possible, as he really enjoys it.
However, once the temperature goes above 80 degrees, he rarely goes in the car, and those few occasions are when I don’t have to make any stops before returning home. I strongly suggest that you keep your pet at home during periods of high summer temperatures.

There was a recent tragedy in my neck of the woods when a K-9 policeman left his police dog in an air-conditioned, idling police cruiser (Crown Vic) for nearly 4 hours. The engine cooling system wasn’t quite up to it and the A/C shut down, and a system that was supposed to roll down the windows and sound an alarm failed. The dog died, and it is causing quite a fuss in the area.

If you make a habit of doing that, you won’t own the CRV or the dog for very long…

It’s also illegal in many States to leave an unattended car running.

“It’s also illegal in many States to leave an unattended car running.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Oh, that’s right, I did–in the 3rd response in this thread.


A 2010 CRV should be able to idle all day long, or until it runs out of gas, with the AC on and no damage should occur.

However, it’s NOT a good idea to leave your pet in a vehicle, running or otherwise, for “some length of time.” The reasons have been laid out clearly in previous posts.

You’re asking us to sanction your irresponsible, possibly illegal, behavior.

No can do.

You should leave the pet at home, where it will be much more comfortable.

If someone comes along and smashes a window to free your pet from the vehicle you have no one to blame but yourself, and animal advocates have been known to do just that.

Then you can pay the fine and the costs to get your pet back. If they’re willing to give it back.

Please rethink this.

A dangerous idea. If there is any unsealed area on the car CO2 (carbon monoxide) could enter the car, dead pet. Idling a long time on a grassy area could start a fire. You’d need an extra set of keys in case your pet hits the door lock button, that would lock the pet in and you out of the car.

We use a 12 volt electric fan to keep the dog reasonably cool when we go, for example, into a restaurant for not more than about an hour in hot weather. We lower the windows about 2 inches and make it a point to buy silver or light gray cars to reflect sunlight. Sunroofs seem to be going away but that was another good measure to help with ventilation.

The dog wants to come along and so we don’t like to tell him no.

In questionable areas we use an FRS radio pair with a VOX feature that transmits if it hears something. If the dog barks, we can hear it and can move to investigate as indicated. That is another good reason to bring the dog along.

Dogs don’t sweat, so an electric fan does absolutely nothing for the dog. You’re leaving an animal who is wearing a permanent fur coat in a car that’s 100 degrees or more inside. Would you like to switch roles, and sit in the car for an hour wearing a fur coat?

The dog doesn’t understand that coming along might be bad for its health. That’s where you as the owner have the responsibility to say no to the dog when it’s in the dog’s best interest.

And dogs are not meant to be replacements for car alarms.

FYI, in some areas, if you leave the dog in the car on a hot day, it’s a crime, and you will be charged if caught.

In my neck of the woods, the ASPCA police patrol supermarket parking lots during the summer months, looking for just such a situation. Trust me–even with an electric fan, you would be subject to animal abuse charges if they observed this type of situation.

Yes in unreasonably hot weather we exercise our judgment; have not lost a dog to car interior heat since we have owned a dog, sometimes two and at one time three, since 1975.

I will not argue the merits of moving air vs still air except to say that moving air will better cool the dog; sweat glands or none. Even the dog knows that moving air is better as evidenced by normal panting.

Where is it written that a dog and an FRS radio are not meant to be used as a car alarm?

when you come out and your window is broken and your dog is gone----- your welcome

Where is it written that a dog and an FRS radio are not meant to be used as a car alarm?

Most states can (and will) charge you with animal cruelty if the dog is in a car that’s too hot. If it’s parked without the air conditioner on, whether windows are cracked or not, it’s too hot. Some states, such as California and Florida among others, have made it a specific crime which carries sentences up to and including jail time.

The windows are partially open; I make sure that it will not be too hot in the car for the dog. I can do that; having experience with that. It would be useless to give me trouble from the law if it is evident that the dog is not in distress.

Where I live it is not permitted to leave an unattended motor vehicle running. That could give the dog CO poisoning.

These folks (who have full arrest powers) would “give you trouble” for keeping a dog in a parked vehicle in the summer months–even with the windows partially open–whether or not you did not think that your dog is in distress:

The fact that you think cracking the windows on a hot day is enough to keep the dog cool hints to me that you probably aren’t clued in enough to know when a dog is in distress in the first place.