Keeping your dog cool on summer drives

 Published 10th August 2023
General Guides 

It's probably safe to say that global warming is definitely a thing. Conspiracy theorists aside, it's pretty obvious to most of us that the weather is a bit different nowadays - just . This year alone the UK has seen the hottest June on record, and the third of July turned out to be the hottest day ever recorded in the entire world, with a global average of 17ºC. All of which has got Skoda worrying about dogs and baking hot cars.

Skoda has a long-standing commitment to the care of canines, shown most recently by its sponsorship of Crufts 2023. While us humans might get excited about heatwaves, your much-loved family dog might be feeling a little hot under the collar.

When it's warm outside, cars can act like a greenhouse and trap the sun's heat. On a pleasantly warm 23ºC day it might be nice to spend time outside, but when you're sat in a car that temperature can reach a whopping 47ºC in under 10 minutes. That's hotter than the aptly-named Furnace Creek, Death Valley; a Californian spot known as the hottest place on Earth.

When a dog's temperature hits 40ºC, they are at risk of life-threatening heat stroke so the interior of a car that's pushing 50 ºC is clearly not a healthy place for them to be. When you factor in the regular temperature of a dog's body temperature is consistently two degrees warmer than a human's, it doesn't take much for them to start feeling the heat.

It can take less than an hour for a dog to be pushed to the brink by extreme heat, and that time comes around so much faster when they are in a warm car.

keeping dogs cool on summer drives

As part of its commitment to dogs of all shapes and sizes, Skoda UK asked dog expert Anna Webb for some top tips to keep our furry friends safe in cars during hot weather.

Drawing on over 20 years of experience, Anna has compiled a list of top tips for the nation's dog-owning drivers in hot weather:

1. Never leave your dog in a stationary car, even with the windows open, or in the shade. Temperatures ‘in car' can easily exceed 40ºC in fewer than 10 minutes, even on days when it might not feel that hot outside.

2. De-sensitise your dog to travelling in the car before any long journey, but especially when it's hot. Signs that your dog is feeling the heat will be excessive panting, drooling and restlessness. A dog that's relaxed in the car will be less likely to feel hot as raised cortisol levels will increase a dog's body temperature and thirst.

3. Cooling vests and mats work to keep your dog's underbelly nice and chilled. Make sure your dog is ‘carrier-trained' for maximum comfort. Carriers should be well-ventilated and spacious enough for the occupant to turn around.

4. Use tasty treats to help train your dog to enjoy their cooling accessories in their carrier before you put them in the car. Short acclimatising sessions indoors could prevent your dog from getting stressed or bored in the car and chewing the cooling mat or vest.

5. Cooling vests should be soaked in cold water before you put them on your pet. The process of evaporation from the heat of the dog dries the vest at the same time as it cools them down. They do need to be re-dampened so combine this with regular comfort breaks for you and the dog.

6. Before you set off, check that your air-conditioning is actually reaching the back seat of the car. If not, or if your dog travels in the boot, think about attaching some portable fans to keep the air circulation going back there.

7. Take regular comfort breaks in the shade so your dog keeps cool. Avoid tarmac and concrete paths — both absorb heat and can burn paws. Try to park your car in a shady spot and use windscreen sun shades to help keep your car cool while you and the dog are stretching your legs.

8. In summer months, travel in the cooler times of the day - early morning or evening are best. And make sure your car is roadworthy to minimise concerns of breaking down in the heat too.

9. Take a cool bag with plenty of fresh bottled water and a bowl for the dog to drink from. A flask of ice cubes is also a good idea as simply offering an ice cube to lick and crunch is a quick way to cool your dog down. You should also keep a towel in your cool bag - if your dog overheats, wrap them in the towel and keep dampening it with cold water to bring their temperature down.

10. An overheated dog might refuse to drink. Anna recommends packing an isotonic hydration drink especially for dogs, or some pre-packed broth, in your cool bag. Both contain essential electrolytes and minerals, and the meaty flavour should encourage your dog to drink and hydrate them quickly.

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