Let’s face it, if you live in the tropics, there’s no way to escape the heat. It hangs around all year long. If you live in Jamaica, it cools down for perhaps December and January, but just barely, and the heat still affects dogs.
This is the first of a series of articles on keeping our K9 companions cool in tropical climates. In Jamaica we have no access to cooling mats or body vests or any of those nifty inventions available in more temperate climates, so we have to find economical yet effective ways to keep our beloved dogs comfortable.
Traveling by car
Jamaicans love to travel with their dogs, even if it’s a brief trip to pick up milk at the grocery store. Be very careful.
Don’ leave the dog in the car with the windows down and water available in the car. Dogs generate a lot of heat in the spaces where they are confined, and their body heat will drive up the already hot temperatures.
If your car has air conditioning (a/c), carry two sets of keys. Leave the a/c running with the dog in the car, and lock the doors. Use your spare to get into the car on your return.
Don’t develop a false sense of security if you leave the a/c running in your car. If the car shuts off, or the a/c stops functioning, the car will heat up to the outside temps in no time. CHECK ON YOUR DOG FREQUENTLY. Don’t just look through the shop window at your dog: Go to the car and ensure that the car and a/c are in fact running.
“A hot car can be a death trap for dogs…” says Mark Evans, RSPCA chief veterinary adviser. Temperatures in a car can reach 117 degrees in less than an hour, and your dog can be cooked to death. An adult dog’s normal body temperature is 102 degrees Fahenheit. Brain damage occurs when body temps rise to 106, and death occurs at 108.
There’s nothing cuter than an ShihTzu traveling in the front passenger side of a vehicle, or sitting in the driver’s lap, head out the window and ears flapping in the breeze. That’s a dangerous practice. Windshields protect passengers inside of a car from dirt, dust, pollution, and flying bits of stones and glass from getting in their eyes. If your dog has his head sticking out the car window, what’s there to protect his eyes?
Think of that ping you hear from the windshield or side of your car as a bit of stone hits the vehicle. Now imagine that bit of stone hitting your dog’s eyes.
Carry water for your dog, but do not store it in the car where it will get hot, like on the floor. If you are traveling long distances, be sure to stop a few times along the way for potty and water breaks.
It’s always a good idea to let your dog go bathroom before setting out on a drive. Some dogs will whimper and get restless if they need to go, so listen to what your dog is saying. However, some dogs will just go on your backseat, especially if traveling makes him very anxious. You can eliminate this unpleasant aspect of traveling by following this advice.
Happy traveling with your dogs!
Picture above: There’s nothing my male Pomeranian enjoys more than a car ride. He is quite capable of jumping into the car without any help, thank you very much. While I packed the car in preparation for a recent dog show, Snuggles contemplated driving us to the show grounds.