There’s a lot of misinformation out there making it difficult for dog owners to make the right decisions on keeping their dogs cool, often leading to devastating consequences.
We love dogs at Land Rover and so we have teamed up with the RSPCA to give you expert advice on keeping your dog cool in a hot car and make sure that trips in the heat are a comfortable, fun experience for everyone. And while we can’t help you with your heat-related odour issues, we can ensure your dog remains cool and healthy in the car.
It’s important that owners remember that man’s best friend doesn’t have the ability to sweat like we do. And while our profuse sweating makes us nobody’s best friend, leaving a panting dog in a hot car for even a minute puts their life at great risk.
Air con or window?
Admit it, who doesn’t love seeing a dog’s head poking out of a car window, tongue flapping and ears in flight. We hate to break it to you, but this isn’t the most effective way to cool your dog down, nor is it the safest. Air conditioning provides a steady stream of cold air, which is brilliant in slow-moving traffic and is safer. When travelling at speed, bugs and pieces of gravel can go into your dog’s mouth, nose and eyes, causing infections. Let’s face it, it’s better to take a hit on your mpg and cool your dog down safely with some air con than have them swallow half of the UK’s insect population.
Alternatives of cooling down?
In some cases however, cranking up the air con and lowering the windows still isn’t enough. If your dog is in the boot of the car, the cool air doesn’t always reach it. Luckily there are some handy accessories to help. You can buy cooling mats that your pooch can lie on, stretch and sleep, making it far more comfortable. For the fashion-conscious among us, there are also cooling t-shirts, neck cowls and even bandanas.
Water bowl in the boot?
Are we nearly there yet? I need a wee. I want a drink. These are just some of the choice phrases our human companions can utter while on a long journey. Your dog however will not. Staying hydrated and mobile is a must on long journeys in the heat. Try to plan your trip via dog-friendly venues in mind, so they have time to drink water, stretch their legs and relieve themselves, making it a better journey for everyone.
What to do when you see a dog in a hot car?
If you see a dog alone in a hot car, first see where the car is parked. If it’s in a supermarket car park, take a note of the car’s reg and ask the supermarket to make an announcement. If it’s in a pay and display, the ticket on the dashboard can be used to see how long the car has been parked for.
If you think it is an emergency, call the police on 999. Don’t call the RSPCA because they don’t have the police powers to break car windows! And please don’t break the window yourself, unless you’re willing to defend yourself in court if you’re charged with criminal damage. To put things into perspective, the RSPCA received 7,876 calls in 2017 and 7,187 calls in 2016 regarding hot dogs – that’s a lot of calls which they couldn’t do much about.
How hot is too hot?
How hot is too hot for your dog? Well, say the outside air temperature is 27C. Your car is essentially a greenhouse, with windows, and is tightly sealed inside. From this, the inside-car temperatures can reach 50C in a matter of minutes, imagine that for a dog! The general rule of thumb is: If temperatures are set to be 21C or above, leave your dog at home.
The symptoms of heatstroke
Why do dogs pant when they’re hot? Because they only have a few sweat glands in the pads of their feet. Dogs can easily suffer from heatstroke and you can tell when they start to pant and drool excessively and lose coordination. When it gets worse, the dog will vomit or collapse. To help it recover, move them into the shade and start to give them small amounts of cool water. Whatever you do, don’t give them cold water as it’ll send them into shock. The other option is to wrap them in a cool, damp towel and ring the vet.
Car safety for your dog
You wouldn’t dream of driving your car without a seatbelt on so don’t forget about your dog as well. Special dog harnesses, crates and dog guards mean that if you do have to make an evasive manoeuvre, your dog will be secure. If you have two dogs, you can also buy dividers. Make sure whatever you use has good ventilation so they don’t get too hot.
When’s best to travel?
Driving in the British heat is never easy, especially if you hit a peak time traffic jam. If you can avoid it, try not to travel with long period of time with your dog, or make journeys that aren’t necessary. If you really need to travel a long distance, travel early morning or late at night when its cooler and the roads are quieter.
Start them young…
When they’re puppies, try to take them on lots of little journeys so they get used to the turns, bumps and speed of the car. They’ll get used to it, and it’ll build their confidence when riding along with you.
Snacks and toys?
Much like their human counterparts, the way to a dog’s heart is through its stomach. When driving with your dog, we suggest feeding your dog no less than two hours before the trip. If you feed them during it, they might be sick. Trust us, no one (and we mean no one) wants to be on the hard shoulder in 30C heat clearing dog sick up. Eating cold food can be a great way of cooling them down, especially with a rubber Kong involved! You stuff the Kong with your dog’s favourite treats, and freeze it. Frozen carrots are a good idea as well.
Different needs for different breeds?
If you have a long-haired dog, make sure you keep their hair short, and well-groomed. It matters more than you think! White dogs will appreciate pet-safe sunscreen on their noses and tips of their ears.
Conclusion – it’s just not worth it
When you’re in your car on a hot day with your dog, remember to BARK:
- Breaks at regular intervals
- Ample water
- Restraints in case of sudden braking
- Keep cool above all else
And whether it’s getting a pint of milk or picking up the kids from school, don’t leave your dog in the car… it’s just not worth the risk. Treat your furry four-legged friend like you would your children – without you they’re helpless and need your constant attention and diligence.
We have worked very closely with the RSPCA to give you sound, expert advice on how to travel with your dog in the British heat. We hope you take it all on board and have fun exploring with your dog!