If asked at any given time whether I’d prefer to bring my dogs with me to places and errands, or leave them home alone, I get immediately conflicting responses. When we had just the one dog, who happened to be extremely well behaved and mellow, it was never a concern about bringing her along and the preference was to definitely wish to include her. Now that we have the two, and they are still both young and shall we say.. rambunctious, I’m more inclined to leave them behind.
However, that is not always an option and the goal and desire is still to include them in as many of our activities as possible. And even if we’re just going to the dog park and back, or off to the trail for a hike, there is often the convenience of making a few quick stops while they’re still passengers. This is rarely ever an issue, unless it’s the summertime and the temperatures are climbing.
EVEN MODERATELY WARM DAYS CAN BE FATAL FOR DOGS IN CARS! Studies have shown that even a mild 70-degree day can quickly equal over 90-degrees in a car. This is true EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN. My apologies for the caps, but this is serious stuff.
And even if your car is moving with the A/C on or the windows cracked, the variance in air temperatures between the front seat where the driver is conveniently close to the vents, to the back seat where the dog is, can swing by an additional 20+ degrees. This is especially true when the dog is in the way back of the SUV in the storage area surrounded by nice big windows which are not open. The cool air doesn’t reach, and the sun streaming in the windows creates an oven effect.
If you doubt these facts, try it out yourself without your dog first. Put a bottle of water in the back storage area of your SUV and drive around in the sun for an hour. Do what you can to keep yourself comfortable, pull over, and take a big gulp of that water. How’d that turn out for you? Now try it with maybe a cell phone or laptop. After an hour in your car, but in that sun, does it still work or are you headed to the store for a replacement?
The nice folks at Petfinder recently shared some alternatives to leaving your dog in the car, since that is never an option during the warm months anyway.
- Use the drive through services. Restaurants, liquor stores, and even some bakeries and dry cleaners offer this convenience.
- Bring someone along who can exit the vehicle with your dog and keep them out of the car while you complete your errand. Please also note that some blacktop and asphalt can also become dangerously hot for the paws of your dog. Again, if you’re not sure this is true. Take off your shoes and walk across barefoot first.
- Shop at stores which are pet friendly and welcome your best buddy inside.
- Dine at outdoor cafes and restaurants with patios where your dog can join you. Sometimes they may still have to be outside, but keep them in sight with access to shade and cooler ground, and bring them water if possible.
- Finally, use common sense and just leave them at home if you’re unsure about any of the alternatives listed above being possible.
And yes, we’re all busy and driving back and forth from home is both inconvenient and costly at times, but having your blood boil and your brain fried is a really, really, painful way to kill your dog. Just don’t do it.
Also, if you ever see a dog locked in a car in the sun, don’t hesitate and immediately call the police. Any embarrassment or concern over a potential conflict you may cause with the owner should be immediately assuaged by the fact that your saving a dog from an extremely painful death. If they love their dog and it was an ignorant mistake or oversight, they’ll thank you. If they don’t, they are assholes and should have to deal with the police. You’re doing the right thing.
(Creative Commons photo courtesy jeremydeades, Flickr)