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12 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Car

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two dogs in car

Are you traveling by car with your dog in hot weather? While the front seat remains coolest in most cars, the back seat and cargo area can get warmer–and getting back into a hot car after stops is no fun for anyone. Here are our tips for keeping your dog cool in the car as you travel this summer.

We love summer, and we love traveling with our dogs–but sometimes the two just don’t mix. When temperatures reach dangerous levels, we generally postpone our dog travel for more temperate days.

Sometimes, though, life gets in the way and you just HAVE to travel. We recently had to make a nursing home visit with four of John’s relatives for whom he is guardian. They live three hours from us…and, as it was the entire month of July, the temperatures were hotter than hot:

weekly forecast with temperatures over 100 degrees

If you find yourself needing to travel with your dog during times of extreme heat, here are our suggestions:

Make sure your car is prepared for the trip.

Before you head off, make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to make the trip. The last thing you want is a breakdown or even a broken AC along the route.

Start early in the day.

Although we wake up to 80 degree temperatures during the summer months, that sure beats triple digits.

We walk our dogs before we head out so we know they’ve gotten a good walk before the temperatures rise.

Freeze water.

The night before the trip, we fill liter bottles 2/3rds full and freeze them. Although we carry one bottle of unfrozen water, the rest are packed frozen; as they thaw throughout the day, Irie and Tiki have cool water during our stops.

Pack more water than you think you’ll need.

Pack twice as much water as you think you’ll need. You never know when you’ll run into a delay, have car trouble, or need to pour water on your dog–or yourself–to cool down.

Offer water often.

We travel with a silicone cake pan about 1/3rd full of water in the car so Irie and Tiki can drink as they choose. I also keep a collapsible PopWare travel cup {Amazon link} clipped to my dog walking bag.

Beware of the pavement.

When you make a pit stop, beware of griddle-hot pavelement. It’s hot enough to fry an egg–and tender paws–on asphalt and concrete during these hot days (and beach sand is also unbearably hot).

When we park for potty stops, we try to find a place both in the shade and near grass so the dogs can immediately hop out and onto a somewhat cooler surface. (If you’re going to be in a downtown setting where this isn’t possible, protective booties are a must.)

If your dog will need to exit the car and stand on the pavement for a few minutes before moving to a cooler location, spread a towel on the pavement to protect her paws. If you’ve got extra water, pour some on the pavement to give your dog a cool place to stand. (See “How Hot is Too Hot for Your Dog?”

Make sure your dog remains in the shade as much as possible.

Try to locate your dog’s seat belt or car crate on the shady side of the car, even if that means switching things up as your travel changes direction during the day.

Can’t move your dog around? Check out retractable window shades to cut the sun–and the heat–so your dog stays cooler in the car.

In the heat of the day, make as few stops as possible.

On the second day of our recent nursing home trip with an overnight at the beach, we enjoyed a morning walk and picnic with plenty of swimming to tire out the dogs–all before noon.

Once it got hot, we got in the car and headed home, with a drive-thru lunch. Irie and Tiki were snoozing so we just kept going so we didn’t have to turn off the car and the AC. When the temperature soars, it can take many uncomfortably warm minutes for the AC to cool the car back down.

Never leave your dog in the car alone.

Never. Repeat, never. If you’re traveling alone, plan bathroom stops in stores that permit dogs like PetSmart and Petco.

Watch your dog for signs of heat stress.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very dangerous conditions for both you and your dog. Know the signs of heat stroke in dogs.

Check out cooling products.

Check out dog cooling mats for your dog to rest on–but remember if you stop for an extended time or overnight you’ll need to remove the mat from the car.

Similarly dog cooling vests  and dog cooling bandanas.

For all the fun of summer, extreme temperatures don’t make the best time for a dog trip. If you find yourself needing to travel when temperatures hit the triple digits, be sure to take extra precautions to make sure all your passengers–two- and four-legged–travel safely and comfortably.

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12 Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Car
Paris Permenter
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