The holidays have definitely arrived. Whether you are heading to sunny beaches or picturesque country walks you’ll need to get in the car. Last month we took a look at how to survive the ordeal of travelling with kids. This month we’re giving you some pointers as to how to make sure your dog survives the ordeal of the fateful hot car.
It doesn’t take long for a vehicle to heat up. When it is just 22 degrees outside, your car only has to sit for an hour in the sun to reach a temperature of 47 degrees. And that’s pretty damn toasty. Think how hot you might get, and then imagine how it is for a dog.
Even though there has been plenty of information broadcast about this topic over the last decade, there are still plenty of idiots around, so we thought we would re-iterate some of the best advice to make sure your loved family pooch is safe at all times.
Prevention is Better than Cure
One of the best ways to ensure your dog doesn’t suffer in the heat is simply not exposing it to the danger in the first place. Leave your dog at home if you can and remember that parking in the shade often doesn’t give your car the protection it needs from ambient heat.
And if you can’t find pubs with gardens that will accommodate dogs then be sensible. Dogs are no different to people. They won’t appreciate being made to tear up and down the beach or woods and then put to rest in a hot car. Give them water before the return trip home – you’ll only need a bowl and a bottle.
Grooming will also help. Dogs shed their coats for summer, but will need a good brush down to lose all that excess hair, which could act like a baking fur coat in the furnace of your car’s carry area.
Out on the Road
The car isn’t any cooler just because you’re driving and your dog can still suffer from the heat. That bowl and water you’ve bought for a stop? That can be used during the journey, but remember you’ll want cold but not ice-cold water. Moist snacks can also be a good treat for your hound.
Stops on the way will allow your dog to move around and get cool in the fresh air and avoiding travel at midday to early afternoon will help you win half the battle by missing out the most heat intensive hours of the day.
And whilst a Labrador or Alsatian hanging out of the window and tonguing the breeze may have been a mainstay of road trips in the 1980s, it’s dangerous and irresponsible and not a good way for your dog to cool down.
Dealing with a Hot Dog
Dogs cannot regulate their temperature like humans. This means that they can easily get heatstroke and really suffer in the sun. Older dogs, larger dogs and dogs with long hair are all prone to getting heat exhaustion more so than other younger and smaller dogs.
The key danger sign to look out for is that your dog is panting without having exercised. Your dog may also be sweating profusely through its paws. This is a sure sign that it is too hot. In such a situation make sure your dog has enough water and even consider pouring water on its head.
If you suspect your dog has heatstroke keep an eye out for a salivating, lethargy, inability to rise off the floor and diarrhoea and vomiting. If you are concerned then stop the car, give the dog water and call a vet immediately.
Dogs Trapped in a Car
If someone has left their car during a hot day then they can actually be arrested. Dogs can quickly die if the internal temperature in a vehicle reaches above 50 degrees Celsius. If you see a dog displaying any of the above symptoms in a car it is advisable to act quickly. However, do not instantly break the window. Go into the nearest shop or restaurant and ask for an announcement to be made to hopefully notify the owner of the predicament.
Ask people nearby if they know the dog or the whereabouts of the owner of the car. Act quickly because if the dog has been suffering for a while then it may not last for long. Call the police rather than the RSPCA as they have the authority to break into the vehicle – and make the call quickly. Mere minutes could be the difference between life and death.
In Case of Emergency
As we mentioned, only the police have the power to break a car window. Choosing to smash the glass and help a dog is a risky business, even if you think the dog will die. The law states you can only damage the vehicle if you believe the owner of the car would do the same, which is quite shaky ground if you don’t know them.
If you do decide to break the glass then take as many photos as you can to justify your position and call the police first as they may be able to advise you on what to do and stay legal. Save the dog by all means, but make sure you have the evidence to back up your actions as the right course of action.
The Final Word
There really is no excuse for leaving a dog in the car during the summer. With most dogs now functioning as part of a loving family, imagine what it would feel like to know that you have ended your beautiful pet’s life through negligence and carelessness.
Don’t risk being in the situation of regret and remember that dogs are even more prone to health problems in the heat than humans – so if you’re feeling uncomfortable, it could be unbearable for your hound.