Dog’s Eye View: Traveling during hot summer days |

Dog’s Eye View: Traveling during hot summer days

Laura Tyler
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
On a 75-degree day, the temperature in a car with the windows rolled halfway down can still reach nearly 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes. 
Stock photo

With summer here and days heating up, please remember to keep your dogs safe while traveling in your car.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it 100 times already.  Important information is worth repeating.   A sad short story is in order, to drive home this vital point.

An old friend was traveling cross country.  He set up the back of his pickup truck for his dog.  His significant other did not want dog hair in the vehicle.  He had a camper shell with windows which slid open to allow for ventilation.  He had water, a soft bed, and some chew bones.  He thought that since he was traveling, the wind coming through the camper shell should be enough.  It was not.  By the time he found his dog, he was in full heat stroke and died.

Less than 10 minutes with the windows rolled down half way can still create temperatures close to 100 degrees inside your car at an outside temperature of 75 degrees.  Parking in the shade can help some but not enough for long-term confinement.  With no breeze, the heat just keeps building.

There are a number of different products available which can help maintain your dog’s body temperature at safer levels.  Still, checking on your furry friend frequently is a must. 

Use a wire crate for your dog.  Leave all the windows down and block the sunny side with an extra windshield cover.  The wind shield cover is a marvelous aid anyway.  Draping a wet towel over one side of the crate can offer some cooling.  Plenty of fresh water for your dog is important.

Cooling vests, bandanas and mats are available. Some of these can be soaked in cool water and wrung out.  On your dog, they have evaporative cooling power to keep your dog’s skin temperature lower for short periods of time.

There are several varieties of mats; some made of neoprene with a gel inside.  These can be expensive but do hold the cool temperature for a while.  These are great for the bottom of a kennel if your dog is not destructive.   Other mats can be filled with water.  There are some battery powered fans that can hook on a wire crate.  And some with a freezable insert that connects over the front of the fan.

Here is a quote from the Steamboat city ordinance, “No person shall leave a dog or cat unattended in a motor vehicle when the temperature is seventy (70) degrees or above; unless, in the opinion of the officer, adequate ventilation and water are provided.”

The ordinance continues, “No person shall leave any dog in the uncovered bed of a pick-up truck when the temperature is seventy (70) degrees or above; unless, in the opinion of the officer, protection from the weather as appropriate, water, and adequate surface upon which to avoid harm to the dog has been provided.”

Keep a thermometer inside your car.  I started this last summer just to keep track of temperature changes as I travel with my dog.  I was amazed at what I found out.  If you think you are doing enough, it probably isn’t as much as necessary.  

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC in Northwest Colorado.

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