Dr. Laurel Davis, Western NC’s holistic vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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No Dogs in Hot Cars: 6 Ways to Avoid the Burn!
We’ve all been there. It’s a mild 75-degree summer day and promising to become balmier. You’ve been with Fido to the dog park, and he’s plum wore out! The car windows are wide open and the breeze is buffeting his ears and lolling tongue. Surely, a quick stop at the local grocery store would be okay. You’ll leave the windows down an inch or two. You wish you could open them more, but he’s been known to go looking for you. Gosh, he just drank a boatload of water, and right now there is a big cloud covering the sun. Surely it will be safe to leave him, just for a minute?
Whoa, Nellie! Please think twice, thrice or as many times as it takes to realize that you are playing roulette with your four legged buddy’s life.
On a cool day, you don’t feel hot so you believe it will be okay. But ambient temperature doesn’t matter; what matters is whether it’s sunny.
Much like the sun can warm a greenhouse in winter, it can also warm a parked car on cool days. In both cases, the sun heats up the air trapped under the glass.
It turns out, the cracked windows have an insignificant effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour. In terms of heat-rise over time, it makes very little difference whether a car’s windows are closed or partially open. In both cases, a car’s interior temperature can rise approximately 40 degrees within one hour, even when the exterior temperature is only 70 degrees.
The paws are the only area on your pooch’s body that have sweat glands. Dogs can’t sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature. If they’re inside a car, recycling very hot air, panting gives no relief and heat stroke can happen quickly. Having said that, we all have lives to lead, and we need to incorporate our four-legged buddies into them. Here are a few ideas for ways to still get stuff done, but protect your pooch.
Do Not Leave Your Dog in the Car When…
- The sun is shining or if there is a significant amount of glare.
- The ambient temperature is above 65%.
- You cannot open the car windows at least halfway to allow for airflow.
- Your pup is not well-hydrated.
Creative Ideas to Avoid Hot Cars:
- Do play dates with your buddy’s best friends while you run your errands.
- Take Fido to the groomer while you work on your checklist.
- Utilize the Doggie Day Care.
- Visit businesses that are dog-friendly such as your local tailgate market, Lowes, Home Depot, Barnes and Noble, some banks, most pet stores and any other of your locally owned shops.
Separation anxiety? Sometimes bringing Fido with us on our errands can feel like a kinder option, but here are some other ideas to help.
- Bring a human companion with you who can take your pooch out for a walk while you’re taking care of your tasks.
- Always have plenty of cool water available, no matter what.
Here is a great link with a printable PDF that spells out the dangers of leaving dogs in cars on warm days. This is a perfect way to remind un-savvy dog owners of the physiologic repercussions of hot dogs in sultry vehicles. You may choose to make copies and distribute them on windshields as you deem necessary. Whether you do that or not, let’s all be advocates of cool canines!
Summer is prime time to get your puppy-bonding time on! Plan your sunshiney days with the well-being of your four-legged BFF in mind.
Shine on and chill out!
Dr. Laurel Davis is a holistic Asheville vet offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.