We all love to travel with our dogs. Whether it is a regular weekend trip to the grocery or a visit to your favorite park, having your dog join you in your travels can surely strengthen the bond between the two of you. Regrettably, when it’s hot outside your car may not actually be the safest place for your pet. Cars can get extremely hot especially in the summer. And even if you have a properly functioning climate control, there is still a chance that it will fail. This can put your pet at risk of heat stroke as well as other safety concerns inherent in a really hot car interior. Here are 10 tips to ensure your pet’s safety whenever traveling in your car on an especially-hot, blistering day.
1. Don’t Ever Leave Your Pet Inside Your Parked Car
Some pet parents believe that cracking their windows open will help prevent overheating their dogs inside their parked car. There are also those who think that it’s okay to leave their dogs in their parked cars since they will only be gone for a while. Unfortunately, cracking the windows will only lead to a 0.3-degree reduction in interior temperatures every 5 minutes, roughly translating to 3.6-degrees in one full hour.
That means that if it is already scorching hot inside, say 105-degrees, rolling the windows down will only bring the temperature low to 104.7 degrees in the first 5 minutes or 101.4 degrees in the first 60 minutes. It is still very hot.
There are also folks who think that just because it’s a cool 70-degrees outside then the interior of the car will also be the same. Unfortunately, studies show that car interiors are like ovens. If it’s 70-degrees outside, it could very well be 95-degrees inside the car within the first 10 minutes. So, don’t ever leave your dog inside your car whether you’ll be gone for a few minutes or you’ll be cracking the windows open. It simply isn’t safe.
2. Use A Well-Ventilated Pet Carrier
Don’t underestimate the versatility, comfort, and safety afforded by a well-ventilated and dutifully crafted pet carrier. Many pet carriers today are designed specifically to promote optimum comfort for your dog. These can reflect heat off of the carrier while allowing cool air to move through the interior. One of the most important things you need to look for when picking a pet carrier is the appropriateness of size. Your dog should be able to stand, sit, turn around, and even lie down comfortably inside the crate. Just imagine, if it’s already too hot and you also cannot move around as freely as you’d want, the heat can grow more intense. A pet carrier that is thermally efficient is always a great choice.
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3. Add Cooling Pads To Your Car Seat Or In Your Pet’s Crate
Sometimes even a well-ventilated pet carrier is not enough to help protect your pet from the scorching heat. What you need are dog cooling pads that feature heat-absorbing materials. They will help draw heat from your dog’s body to reduce its core body temperature. There are different cooling pads depending on the integrated cooling technology used. Some use gel-like substances that provide both cooling comfort for your pet and draw heat from your pet’s body. These work like absorbent pads, except that it is heat that they absorb. There are also cooling pads that come with substrates which you can put in the freezer. You are essentially giving your pet a mattress made of ice. Regardless of the type of cooling pad that you choose, you can easily place it on your car seat, in your dog’s crate, or even on the floor of your vehicle.
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4. Bring Plenty Of Cool Refreshing Water For Constant Rehydration
If you’re only driving for about a block or two, then perhaps there really is no need to bring your dog’s own water to drink. However, if you’re looking at several tens to hundreds of miles of driving or even going on an interstate travel, having cool refreshing water should help your pet stay hydrated during the trip. It is very important to realize that some dogs are more susceptible to dehydration because of their unique anatomy. Additionally, they don’t have sweat mechanism that could prove useful in cooling their bodies. As such, always pack bottles of drinking water whenever you go out with your dog. Bring also collapsible water bowls. If you have a pet carrier with bottle holder you can use this to attach your pet’s drinking water.
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5. Invest In Waterproof Seat Covers And Rubberized Floor Liners
You may not like the idea of creating an icy pool inside your car, but if this is the only way to keep your pet from overheating, then do it. What you can do to protect your car from this icy bed is place really good-quality waterproof dog seat covers as well as rubberized floor liners. These should help protect your car’s flooring and seats from the mess that is bound to occur from melting ice. Alternatively, you can place ice bags or ice packs on your car seat for your pet to lie on. It is going to be messy, but it sure is worth it.
6. Bring Cool, Refreshing, Icy Treats
If you have a portable cooler in your car, you can actually prepare some icy treats for your dog to feast on during the trip. You can make ice cubes made of beef or chicken broth. You can also make popsicles or ice drops made of yummy fruits. You can give these treats to help lower your pet’s body temperature on a really hot trip.
You can also place these icy treats in its drinking water to make it more palatable, enticing your dog to drink more. This is where waterproof seat covers can be really handy so you don’t end up with car seats that have been soaking in melted ice.
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7. Park Under The Shade
Whenever and wherever possible, park your car in the shade. This can help provide for a cooler car cabin. When you and your pet return to the car, it will not be that hot. You will also be helping your car air conditioning by not going full blast the moment you turn it on. In case there is no shade to begin with, you may want to invest in car shades to help shield your cabin from the heat coming through your windshield and windows. Choose one that comes with reflectorized surfaces so that the heat will be bounced off of this surface. It may not cool your cabin that much, but it sure will not be as hot as an oven.
8. Schedule Your Trips
Sometimes all you need is a little planning of your trip. If you’re concerned about your pet’s health, you may want to travel early in the morning or even late in the afternoon or early evening. This should help your pet feel more comfortable as it will not be really that hot. Also, be mindful of heat indices in the place where you are going to. Environmental temperatures are affected by relative humidity. The more humid it is, the hotter it feels.
9. Be Mindful Of Your Car’s Cabin Temperature
Some modern cars now have computerized cabin climate controls to help you keep track of your cabin temperature. This way you can easily adjust your car’s interior cooling system. Unfortunately, not all cars will have this feature so you might want to invest in a cabin temperature monitoring device that works more like a room thermometer. Understand that 85-degrees is generally considered the upper limit of what is comfortable for dogs. You should also keep in mind that your perception of what is hot is actually double when ‘felt’ by dogs. So if you think it’s hot, it is actually twice as hot if only your dog can talk. You should be ready to make the necessary adjustments in your cabin temperatures.
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10. Don’t Let Your Pet Bring Its Head Outside The Car’s Window
Regardless of how cool it may look, this is especially dangerous for your pet. Of course, the wind rushing against its face should help it cool down a bit. However, you really cannot say when debris will come flying along and potentially smacking your pet right on its head. Instead of having a great time you’ll be worrying about the costly veterinary care that you will have to shell out because of the injury. Keep your pet secured either with a seatbelt-leash harness or with a crate. We already mentioned about the dog crate as the safest and most comfortable way for your pet to travel.
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If you’re like most pet parents who love traveling with their dogs in their cars, then you know that you’re exposing your pet to potential heat stroke and other safety issues especially when it’s scorching hot outside. By adhering to some or all of these 10 tips for dog safety in hot cars, you’ll be ensuring more fun times for you and your pet.
- Anna Burke, Can I Leave My Dog in the Car If I Crack a Window?, The American Kennel Club
- Pets in Vehicles, American Veterinary Medical Foundation
- What to Do if You See a Pet in a Parked Car, The Humane Society of The United States