Dog’s Eye View: It’s hotter than you think | SteamboatToday.com

Dog’s Eye View: It’s hotter than you think

Laura Tyler/For the Steamboat Today

With summer here and days heating up, remember to keep your dogs safe while traveling in your car.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you've heard it 100 times already. But important information is worth repeating. A sad short story is in order to drive home this important point.

An old friend was traveling cross country. He set up the back of his pickup for his dog because his significant other did not want dog hair in the vehicle. He had a camper shell with windows that slid open to allow for ventilation. He had water, a soft bed and some chew bones. He thought that since he was traveling, the wind coming through the camper shell should be enough. It was not. By the time he found his dog, he was in full heat stroke and died.

Less than 10 minutes with the windows rolled down half way still can create temperatures close to 100 degrees inside your car at an outside temperature of 75 degrees. Parking in the shade can help some but not enough for long-term confinement. With no breeze, the heat just keeps building.

There are a number of different products available that can help maintain your dog's body temperature at safer levels. Still, checking on your furry friend frequently is a must.

Here are a few suggestions:

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• Use a wire crate for your dog. Leave all the windows down and block the sunny side with an extra windshield cover. The wind shield cover is a marvelous aid anyway. Draping a wet towel over one side of the crate can offer some cooling.

• Always keep plenty of fresh water for your dog.

• Cooling vests, bandanas and mats are available. Some of these can be soaked in cool water and wrung out. On your dog, they have evaporative cooling power to keep your dog's skin temperature lower for short periods of time.

There are several varieties of mats; some made of neoprene with a gel inside. These can be expensive but do hold a cool temperature for awhile. These are great for the bottom of a kennel if your dog is not destructive. Other mats can be filled with water. (I bought a cheap one and it worked great for my little dog but when my 45 pound dog laid down in it, the stopper popped and my car was filled with water.)

There are some battery-powered fans that can hook on a wire crate. And some with a freezable insert that connects over the front of the fan.

• Keep a thermometer inside your car. I started this during past summers just to keep track of temperature changes as I travel with my dog. I was amazed at what I found out. If you think you are doing enough, it probably isn't as much as necessary.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25+ years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado. Find more information at http://www.totalteamworktraining.com.