Dogs die in hot cars. This is always a very sensitive and topical subject
We speak to many dog owners who are terrified to leave their dog in the car unattended on a warm day – even for seconds.
Our advice is that you should never leave your dog unattended in car for long periods of time but that does not mean with the right precautions, and regular monitoring that you need to be any more concerned about leaving the dog in the car as your day laying in your garden on a warm day.
Why Leave My Dog In The Car At All?
In the UK we are used to what feels sometimes like two weeks of Summer. As the temperature rises it is only natural that we like to capture the good weather and spend as much time in the outdoors with our family and pets as we possibly can.
There are many dog activities and sports that run in all seasons, keeping your dog safe and comfortable is essential. For example, at Boomerang Dogs we run responsible mantrailing training all throughout the year, come rain or shine.
A car, often perceived and portrayed as a deathtrap can actually become a sanctuary on a hot day providing that illusive shade from the harsh sun.
Why Do Cars Heat Up So Quickly?
Cars heat up for the same reason that greenhouses do. Rays from the sun hit the outside of your car, some of this is reflected and some of it is absorbed and turned into heat.
If your car is closed the air inside heats up quickly and has no way of being replaced by cool air.
There are 2 ways to make sure your car keeps cool. One is preventing the car from heating up in the first place – preventing the sun turning into heat by reflecting it away. The second is to keep cool air circulating inside the car.
You can also cool down your dog more immediately through direct cooling contact in the form of cool water, a mat and so forth.
Here are some of our favourite products for ensuring your dog stays as cool as a cucumber:
1. Road Refresher Non Spill Water Bowl
Every responsible dog owner should make sure their pooch is hydrated. This is especially true in the summer when the temperatures start to rise!
What makes this bowl an essential pick for us for car rides in the summer is its stubborn ability to stay upright, and when knocked to keep the water from soaking your car’s interior. We have even accidentally dropped it upside down and it didn’t lose lots of water immediately.
We never leave the house without this bowl and your dog will thank you for always having a drink on hand.
What we particularly love about this bowl is that it holds a really good amount of water but is still a nice size and sits well in the corner of the crate without taking up too much room.
We had tried a number of bowls that attach to the crate but they always spilt or could be knocked off by our dogs, it does come with velcro pads but we haven’t needed to use these as it doesn’t slide around on the vetbed in the crates.
It has also lasted a long time, we have been using it for a year and it still looks brand new, although it says its dishwasher safe we haven’t put it in the dishwasher as it’s so easy to hand wash anyway.
£11.99 on Amazon
2. Be Cool Solutions™ Reflective Aluminet™ Shade Cloth
Aluminet at first glance looks like wizardry or alien technology. It certainly makes your car look like a UFO.
Aluminet is in some ways magical. You can drape your car (or yourself..!) in this netting and remain cool in the blazing heat.
The clever fabric technology works in two ways: on the one hand it reflects the sun, and so heat away from the car helping the car to remain cool. The specially woven reflective fabric also helps promote airflow to the car which helps allow a breeze through on a warm day.
When first seeing them and hearing the price I was a bit sceptical but on an exceptionally hot day a friend of mine was using one and I kept finding myself gravitating underneath it as it was so cool and pleasant with the breeze. I bit the bullet and purchased one, and it has definitely been my best purchase for the dogs. I use it all the time.
It really does work, even on the hottest days the dogs barely seem to notice when they are in the car under it. There are two sizes and we have the larger one, we chose the larger one for a few reasons: We have a large-ish car and the big one enables us to cover the WHOLE car and also leaves some spare to hang over the back when you have the boot open so no matter which way the sun is facing the dogs are blocked from the sun with the boot open. It’s also a place for us to stand and get some shade that way too.
I always put it on at the earliest opportunity, that way the car doesn’t get a chance to heat up and that way you are not fighting to cool down an already hot car.
Once while camping at a dog training week we even put it over the top of a gazebo so everyone could enjoy the benefits, it was really useful and everyone loved it. We were the most popular pitch that week!
It seems somewhat delicate and like it can snag easily, there have been times where we were worried it would catch but actually it hasn’t. We are fairly careful with it and take care to pull it off gently, checking it isn’t caught on things. A few times it has pulled slightly but if you stretch out the material around it it just evens back out and disappears. It’s not got any major snags or rips in it and we use it heavily, the material is surprisingly strong.
Getting it on and off your car on your own take a bit of practice, especially with the larger Aluminet, but once you get the knack it’s simple to do. I start at the front of the car and hook it over one wing mirror and then the other wing mirror, then pull it evenly from each side until I can reach it at the back of the car and pull it into position. There is a handy seam that goes down the middle so you know if the Aluminet is the right way round and lined up straight.
We use these handy bungees to then hook it to the wheels of the car to make sure it doesn’t blow off in the wind.
Getting it back in the original bag can be quite tricky so I rarely bother, instead I bundle it up and shove it in the boot or roll it and secure it with the bungees instead.
We even use the Aluminet when it isn’t particularly sunny or hot as it makes a great visual barrier for the dogs in the car too, it means they cant see other people and dogs passing and reduces any barking.
Just make sure if it starts to rain you get it in quick, while the rain doesn’t ruin it, it does hold masses of water and gets very heavy. It takes quite a while for all the water to drain off and it to dry, lots of that water will be in your car on the way back!
In spite of these considerations, this product has been a life-saver and enabled us to take part in lots of cool activities with the stress of wondering if the car is getting too hot.
£189.00 on Amazon
3. Digital Thermometer
This is a little known trick we use – if you are a worrier, or just like to be extra sure it’s not too hot inside your car then we recommend picking one of these up.
It will not directly keep your car cooler but you can be more sure that the car is at a cool and comfortable level for your dog. Always use this product as a guide rather than taking it for absolute information – we always recommend checking that you are in range, that the battery in the thermometer are charged and that you are regularly checking on your dog.
£16.99 on Amazon
4. Cool Dog Tailgate Lock
A key component to keeping your car cool is a good amount of airflow. This lock is designed specifically to allow airflow and ventilation by keeping the boot open but locked.
This works in combination with leaving your windows slightly open – I am sure you have experienced being in your apartment or house and having the front and back doors and windows open and noticing the gust of wind.
This product harnesses that same science by turning your car into a wind tunnel and allowing the air to rush through. The air flow is noticeable and you get goosebumps from the breeze
What makes this product stand out is that it offers security, you can feel safe knowing your boot is lock and someone can’t disturb, or worse, steal your dogs. With dog thefts on the rise this is a great option to provide some piece of mind.
£16.79 on Amazon
This actually works amazing well with another product we like and use..
5. Petgear Car Window Guard
While not the sexiest of products in our lineup, window vents are really useful if your dog is a regular Christopher Columbus and Houdini.
The vents let you keep your windows open but stop your escape artist pup from climbing out. It works exceptionally with the Boot Lock to give the car airflow and keep it and your dog cool.
While they are plastic so are not quite as safe as having your windows closed, they are pretty strong and when put in correctly cannot be removed without physically breaking them which is a good deterrent.
£12.98 on Amazon
6. Pecute Dog Cooling Mat
You may have come across these before, they are not a brand new idea but a cooling mat is a fantastic addition in your fight against heat. The mats are usually either filled with water or a gel and come in variations where you need to freeze it or not.
We also recommend that you ensure that your dog and mat will play nicely before you leave them alone so you do not come back to mat-mageddon. Some poorer quality mats may also puncture more easily if your dog’s claws are long so it may be time for a groom before you use them!
Initially we got a cheaper one from a value store but it lasted approximately one use before a nail went through the surface and it leaked everywhere! This one is much higher quality and has lasted much better. They do get a bit dirty with dog paws but you can give it a sponge over with dish soap and it comes up clean again.
Boomerang dog Lemon doesnt love the feel of it as she doesnt like to be cold, but even with a thin fleece over the top it still does a good job of keeping her a reasonable temperature.
We prefer the gel variety and the type you do not need to freeze for convenience, make sure if you are buying the gel version that the gel is non-toxic.
£19.99 on Amazon
Special Mention: Doggie Sun Block
It will not cool your dog down but we thought it deserved a mention here to protect your dog from harmful sun rays.
It’s perfect for breeds with more skin exposed such as Chinese Crested, however most dogs have sensitive areas which are not covered in fur. We apply this to Boomerang Dog Luna to prevent her snout being scorched.
When you are shopping for sunscreen be aware that your dog may have sensitive skin – always test a very small amount first in a less prominent area. Dog’s skin can be particularly sensitive which is why human-grade and higher SPF lotion is often unsuitable.
Most sunblock also contains Zinc which vets will recommend to avoid applying to your dog as they can react to it poorly, so avoid this.
Many sunblocks, just like the human variety, also offer inadequate protection so always check for UV protection to stop those harmful rays!
£12.95 on Amazon
Always be aware of your dog’s state and body language, products can be super helpful but are never a replacement for sensible care and knowing and reading your dog.
Any products you use that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.