“What do you give a dog with a temperature? Mustard, because he’s a hot dog!” The joke was told to me by a Veterinarian’s 7 year old daughter. Seriously, what do you do when extreme temperatures hit and you need to have your dog in the car? My dogs have experienced it all. A road trip with dogs is my favorite thing to do so they have travelled across country multiple times. For a few years, I attended dog shows nearly every weekend and we encountered every kind of weather condition you can imagine. One day, we started the day with 95 degree heat finishing one agility trial and ended the day setting up for the next agility trial in the snow.
At agility trials and any dog event, the talk is about keeping our dogs happy in the weather conditions—usually hot weather—and sharing ideas. We constantly reminded each other to drink lots of water and encourage our dogs to drink water. Some wonderful person told me if I’m going to hose my dogs down to cool them off, to be sure to get them wet down to their skin—wetting only the top layer of fur will only intensify the heat.
After 30 years of travelling with dogs, it’s a habit to pay attention to outside temperatures before I load any dogs in the car. If it’s going to be in the 60s and sunny, I make sure I have water packed in the car. If I have to park the car and leave the dog, I try to park in shade of a building or trees and leave the windows slightly opened. As temperatures increase, I freeze water so as it thaws the dogs always have cool water. I pack battery run fans and reflective shade tarps to wrap my car in. If the temperature is above 75, I consider other options or leaving my dog home.
Dogs cool themselves down by panting and they have sweat glands on the pads of their paws. Not a great cooling system when wearing a fur coat, especially if they are standing on a hot surface. Many dogs have hard time in extreme cold temperatures. They only have their fur coat to keep them warm. A husky may prefer to be outside curled up in a snow covered dog house, but I couldn’t imagine my dog, Geo, wanting to stay outside for very long.
Every dog is a little different in their heating and cooling needs. The important thing to remember that dog’s thermostat is not very efficient and we need to pay attention to temperatures for them. In the Northwest, outside temperatures don’t drop too low, though lately December and January have been brutally cold. You will need to think about how long to leave dogs stay outside and if they have shelter to get out of the cold. Our summers can be intensely hot though so consider outdoor walks or training in the morning and giving your dogs car rides in the morning or only on drive through errands, going to the bank or getting coffee.
Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers dog training classes in an air conditioned facility, both private and group lessons. Please call at 541-895-3162 or visit www.rocknestpetcare.com for more information. Find us at www.facebook.com/rocknestpetcare/