For the Love of Pets
Dogs in Cars: Warm Weather Safety
I love taking my dogs with me everywhere. They are content sitting in the car while I run errands, or even hanging out in the back of the car while I am at the movies. This morning I woke up and plopped them in the car so they could run around at the barn with me. By the time I got to the gym, it was 9:30 and already heating up. I quickly worked out, the entire time worrying about them in the car. It seems I need to get in “warm weather mode,” and that includes changing my routine for when I put my dogs in the car.
Have you ever gotten into your car on a mildly warm day and been shocked how warm it is in there? Now imagine your dogs in there. Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn't guarantee protection either, temperatures can still climb. And if the window is rolled down sufficiently, the pet can escape. (Plus, if a passer-by claims he or she was bitten through the car window, you may be liable.)
Studies have shown that on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 to 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Even when you're just going to run in to the grocery store for a quick second, temps in the car are already soaring.
My personal policy is that no pet should be left in a car when it’s over 60 degrees outside. When the outside air temperature is in the 60’s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach into the 90’s on bright, sunny days. Many experts also recommend 60 degrees as the upper limit for leaving pets in cars, even for short periods.
And what should you do if you’re concerned about the safety of a dog in a car on a hot day? Try to locate the owner (i.e. if they’re in the grocery store and you can have them paged). Or if you can’t find them, you can call the police. The police can get in touch with the owner of the vehicle, or they can also break into the car if necessary for the animal’s health.
Our pets rely on us for their safety. One simple thing we can do is to make sure their health and comfort is first and foremost. Even though they’ll still want to go with you when you’re leaving for the day, they’ll be happier at home lounging on the cool floor waiting for you than they will be in a hot car.
Lucky would be just as happy at home, waiting for you to return rather than waiting in a hot car!
*Nadia Novik is the Operations Manager and Veterinary Technician for the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.