Summer – and hopefully some warmer weather – is just around the corner. While most people can’t wait for rising temperatures, the dog owners among us are starting to think about what steps we are going to take to keep our canine friends safe if we need to take them out in the car.
You’ve probably heard that it’s dangerous to leave your dog unattended in a hot car. Sadly, many owners still think that nothing bad will ever happen to their dog, and gamble with their four-legged friend’s life every summer. Unfortunately, some dogs do die every year as a result of being left in a hot car.
What happens to dogs in hot cars?
Many owners believe that parking their vehicle out of direct sunlight, leaving a window cracked open or having water accessible is enough to keep their dog comfortable. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Temperatures rise much more quickly inside a vehicle than outside, essentially turning the interior into an oven. For example:
- If it’s 24°C outside, temperatures inside a car can reach 40°C in 20 minutes.
- If it’s 26.5°C outside, temperatures inside a car can reach nearly 43°C in 20 minutes.
- At 29.5°C outside, it takes just 10 minutes to reach 40°C inside the car.
When a dog is very hot, panting just isn’t enough to cool their bodies down. Just a 2°C increase your furry pal’s body temperature is enough to trigger heatstroke, and this can prove fatal in as little as 15 minutes.
How to tell if a dog has heatstroke
- Heavy panting
- Seeming drowsy/fatigued
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 999 immediately and wait with them until help arrives. If they aren’t in distress, they could still get ill very quickly. Take a note of the car registration number and ask nearby workers or passers-by if they know who the owner is and can contact them.
If you need to go on a journey, you need to decide if it’s really necessary to take your dog with you. If you are going to need to go somewhere where you can’t take them outside of the car, such as a medical appointment or supermarket, it’s much better and safer to leave them at home.
If you do need to take your dog in the car on a hot day, take steps to control the temperature inside the car. Their body processes heat differently to your own, so what feels comfortable to you could be unbearably hot for your dog. Use air conditioning or keep the windows down when you drive, use sunshades on the windows where your dog is restrained and make plenty of stops to offer them a drink of cool water from a travel bowl. If you have any concerns about your dog while travelling, don’t hesitate to stop and speak to your vet.