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How Do I Keep My Dog Safe From Heat Illnesses in the Car?

Let me say at the outset that I am 100% against leaving dogs in hot cars. However, there may be an emergency where you can't leave your dog at home, and that's what this article is about.

In the summer months cars can be dangerous, even deadly, to our dogs. We've all seen the news reports of dogs and children trapped in cars - some with tragic endings.

Let's look at the numbers. A dog's normal body temperature is 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If the air temp is 85 degrees outside the car, in 10 minutes, it's 104 inside; in 20 minutes, it's 114. If your dog's temp rises to 106, he has heat stroke, which damages his internal organs and can be fatal.

That being said, you can both prepare for a car ride with your dog during the summer months and also incorporate technology that lets you know that temperatures are getting too hot for your dog.

What you can do:

  • Don't exercise your dog before the car ride.
  • Park anywhere in the shade - under a tree, in a garage, in the shadow of a building.
  • Keep the air conditioning running and the windows open about 3 inches so that a person cannot reach in and get into your car. If you have to turn the AC off, crank it up full blast before you get out.
  • Bring aluminum foil and tape the foil with the shiny side out onto the car's windows to deflect the sun's rays.
  • Bring a non-tipping bowl and fill it with water and ice cubes to leave for your dog while you are gone.
  • Fill self-sealing plastic bags with ice cubes, cover them with a towel, and put it into a pillow cover so your dog can rest on it.
  • Squirt bottles to mist off your dog before you leave.

There are also products that you can purchase:

  • Cover all the windows with sun screens, not just the front windshield.
  • If you crate your dog, then use a wire crate rather than a plastic one.
  • Install window vents that lock into a partially open window.
  • Purchase apps that have sensors in the car that ring your cell phone telling you when the temperature has gotten too hot.
  • Put sun shade cloths on the top of your car.
  • Use air conditioners and fans that are battery operated or that plug into the lighter socket. Some are free-standing, and some hook onto a crate.
  • Use cooling beds, coats, collars, towels, and wraps that you can put on your dog.
  • Use window vent visors that are tinted so it's difficult to see whether your window is open or not.

If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke, such as excessive panting, a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, cool him off immediately by wetting him with cool not cold water. Give him some water with Gatorade or Pedialyte to replace the electrolytes he has lost and take him to the veterinarian immediately.

As you can see, there is a lot of planning involved. Please follow through now!

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