February 18, 2021
I think we can agree that the only way to survive traffic on a warm day is to have the air conditioner on or a mercifully strong breeze coming in through the windows. The body of your car is made of metal and so on a hot, or even a warm day, the inside is bound to heat up. Now, if you are in a car with your dog, an air conditioner isn’t a luxury, it is essential for their survival.
The temperature inside your vehicle can climb to dangerous levels even in just a few minutes on a hot day. According to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, temperatures inside a car can spike to 40 degrees F in one hour with 80% of the temp rise happening within the first half hour. Dogs can regulate their body’s temperature but not as quickly as the heat building up inside your car. And especially not in the unreasonably hot summers that we experience.
A hot car can induce heat stroke in a matter of minutes, damaging your dog’s organs and very quickly causing death. Yes. DEATH. Whether you’ve left your dog in a parked car (even in the shade) or you’re driving your dog somewhere, heat can build up inside if the air conditioner isn’t on. And since we’re seeing warmer weather throughout the year, you should take care in all seasons.
It’s not enough to just crack a window: It is not safe to roll down your windows when you have a dog in the car. Even with it rolled down just halfway, dogs have managed to squirm out. So, many drivers just leave a sliver open at the top to ensure ventilation. But this is just not enough to keep the temperature inside the car down. Your dog will find it nearly impossible to manage. Please turn the air conditioner on and keep an eye on your dog to spot possible signs of heat stroke.
Don’t put them in the boot: If your dog is way back in the boot of your car, the air conditioner wont reach him or her. The air conditioner barely reaches back there and they’re super close to the hot metal door. It has no windows that can be opened and so, no chance of ventilation. Even worse, if your pet is struggling, you may not even be able to see it. Remember that the boot was designed to carry luggage and goods, not live animals. If you’re concerned about your seats, you can use car seat covers. In a pinch, you can use a simple bedsheet to cover up the back seat.
Exercise extreme caution with some breeds: Pugs, boxers and other dogs with flat snouts or ‘brachycephalic’ breeds have a very difficult time with the heat. A dog cools off by panting and not by sweating as humans do. These flat faced breeds have a harder time breathing and so, take much longer to cool their bodies down. You also need to be extra careful with dogs that have very thick coats and are not really meant for hot Indian weather like St. Bernards and Huskies. Older dogs and those that are overweight also need to be monitored carefully.
It’s not just in the summer: While you certainly need to be extra alert in the summer, you should pay attention throughout the year. Warm and hot days are no longer restricted to summers alone. As a rule, it is a good idea to keep pets indoors and out of the harsh afternoon sun. Restrict activities to mornings and evenings when the sun is gentler.
In fact, the study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that it can be dangerous to leave children or pets in cars even in mild weather. According to the authors, even if it’s a mild day but the sun is out, the inside of your car can heat up. Just as the sun is able to heat up temperatures inside a greenhouse in the winter, it can cause temperatures inside your closed car to rise even on a mild day.
If you notice someone driving with a dog in their boot, pull up to them and politely let them know that their dog is finding it difficult to deal with the heat (being angry about it will only make them defensive and won’t do the dog any good). If you see a dog left in a parked car, go into the store and alert the owner right away. Heat strokes work fast and do a lot of damage to major organs. You will have to get someone’s attention immediately to help a dog stuck in this situation.