Dogs can easily die in hot cars when you consider that even if it’s only 80 degrees outside, in 20 minutes the car will begin to cook, reaching 109 degrees, – even with the windows cracked – according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. However, check this out – I test all this, and video recorded the event. I wondered how a dog feels in a hot car. Watch what happens to me – it’s about 82 agrees, and the temperature inside the car exceeds the 120 mark on the thermometer. That’s hot enough to kill a dog.
“If it’s too hot for a person, it’s too hot for a dog,” agrees Dr. Mark Russak, past president of the American Animal Hospital Association.
Actually, there’s some sort of law in 29 states on the sides of the animals locked in those hot cars. Still there’s no law to mandate that law enforcement takes reports seriously when an animal is trapped in the car, though that culture is quickly changing.
If you find a pet locked in a hot car, call local law enforcement first, before breaking a window (to protect yourself) unless the animal appears to be in distress, then all bets are off. Still breaking into a car has potential risks, even if it is to save a dog, so that is a personal decision. If law enforcement refuses to take your call seriously, or doesn’t show up until after their estimated time of arrival, call back and indicate you now need to break the window to save the pet, that may protect you some.
Hot cars aren’t the only threat for dogs to overheat. Just playing outside can be a problem as dogs can easily overheat and even suffer life threatening heat stroke. While people can sweat off the heat, dogs pretty much only pant, which isn’t a very efficient cooling mechanism. The problem of not overheating is worse among breeds with known as brachycephalic, who have pushed in noses, such as the Pekingese, Bulldog, French Bulldog, some pit-bull types, and even Boxers, and many others. Also darker colored dogs radiate heat. And the larger the dog, the tougher time not over-heating.
Dogs will sometimes keep going just to please us, or because it’s fun. An adult needs to step in and say, ‘enough is a enough.”
Russak, who is in Berlin, CT, says if you go running with your dog and it’s hot outside, plan the jog early in the morning or after sundown, and always bring water (for yourself and for the dog).
In very hot weather, it’s also best to take dogs out for walks early in the morning or after dark. Also without the hot sun shining concrete or asphalt is cooler. When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees. Of course, given a choice, dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot. However, we don’t always give dogs the choice – on a leash, there’s nowhere to go, so dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, potentially burning paw pads. “If that begins to happen, pick up a small dog; or do what you can to get off the asphalt as soon as you can,” Russak says.
Obviously, plastic kids’ pools are safe places to keep cool. People sometimes forget that not all dogs can swim, but it’s challenging to drown in a pool with a foot of water.
Still, even expert swimmers can’t swim forever. Dogs who can’t find their way out of large swimming pools can drown, even experts like Newfoundlands and Labradors. There should also be easy access out of pool. For dogs in a real pool or swimming in lake or river, a life jacket for dogs is a good idea, just as it is for children.
Another summer concern is dogs getting skunked. Here’s what to do:
- Step #1: Get a clothespin – that’s for your nose.
- Step #2: Scrub your pooch in a solution of one quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and one teaspoon liquid dish soap.
- Step #3: Rinse.
- Step #4: Scrub the pet again – this time with a solution of half tomato juice and half water as needed.
- Step #5: Rinse.
- Step #6: Go to the movies while the odor subsides.
Or how about this, skip steps two through six and use Fresh Wave pet shampoo instead.