How hot does a car have to get for your dog to overheat and die?

It’s that time of year again: pleasant summer days when dog owners are tempted to take their beloved pet in the car with them for that quick trip to the supermarket.

The problem is….on even a mild 75-degree day, the temperature inside a car – even with the windows cracked – can reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes.

Now, suppose you were sitting in that car as it heated up. As your body temperature started to climb, your sweat glands would kick into high gear and you would perspire heavily, which makes your body temperature go back down.

Unfortunately, your dog doesn’t have all the sweat glands we have. He can sweat a little bit through his paws, but mostly he sweats through his tongue, by panting. But when he has only hot air to breathe, his body temperature climbs so rapidly that he cannot lower it simply by sweating through his tongue and paws.

That means he is going to overheat quickly….and probably die.

If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, even with the windows cracked, note the type of car and license plate number. If you can tell which store the owner is in, ask the store manager to page the vehicle’s owner. Otherwise, call the police, who usually respond faster than Animal Control.

Christmas safety tips for dog owners

The festive holiday season is not without risks for our four-footed friends. New objects suddenly appear in their home: Christmas trees, shiny swinging balls, flashing lights, holiday-themed throws and pillows that smell different.

Veterans of Christmases Past will take it in stride, but new puppies and adolescents will be wide-eyed and curious. With the sudden appearance of so many chewables, mouthy canines are at especially high risk.

Watch out for:

The Christmas tree. Trees are tippy. Anchor the tree in a sturdy stand. Some owners of large enthusiastic dogs actually tie the tree to the wall to keep it upright. Be aware that live needles cannot be digested and can puncture the throat or intestines. If your dog won’t stay away from the tree, consider putting decorative fencing around it. Be aware that some confused male dogs may lift their leg on a tree.

Decorations can lacerate your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines. Tinsel, angel hair, and artificial snow can cause digestive upsets or strangulation of his intestinal tract. Fasten decorations tightly to branches or hang them only on the higher branches — or again, put up a decorative fence.

Tree preservatives added to the water can make your dog ill if he drinks it.

Eating wrapping paper can cause gastrointestinal upset. Swallowed ribbons can become tangled in the intestines. Put torn paper and ribbons straight into a garbage bag, rather than leaving it strewn on the floor.

Don’t let your dog unwrap his own presents….unless you want him to conclude that ALL wrapped gifts are fair game and then some day you will be very, very sorry. Yes! It happened to me! :-(

After you open and admire a new gift, watch where you set it. It may look like an inviting new toy to your dog. Children’s toys are especially dangerous, as they often contain small parts that can be swallowed.

Tempting sweets left in open dishes on the coffee table can make your dog very sick. Remember that chocolate, in particular, can be deadly to dogs.

Burning candles, potpourri, and incense can cause nasal or respiratory irritations in dogs.

Christmas plants should be put up high, out of reach. If your dog nibbles on Christmas cactus, hemlock, holly, ivy, mistletoe, or poinsettia, the results can range from a mildly upset stomach to seizures.

Rawhide isn't safe...even if Mom sent it.

On a delicate note, friends and relatives may give your dog unsafe or unhealthy gifts, such as rawhide chews, or a box of chemical-laden treats from the supermarket. Remember: “It’s the thought that counts” so be appreciative and diplomatic, but you shouldn’t let your dog actually partake of these unsafe toys or processed products.

To sum up, if you have a new puppy, or a curious dog who loves to chew, or a dog who is experiencing his first or second Christmas, you need to stay alert. Treat him like a toddler. “Stay over here….don’t touch that….play with this instead….no, sweetie, mustn’t touch….” Vigilance! You want him to make it through this Christmas safe and sound and having learned good rules for next year.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs

COOKED turkey bones can kill your dog....so can too much rich food.

The obvious threat on Thanksgiving Day is your dog getting hold of a cooked turkey bone.

RAW poultry bones can be safe for dogs because they’re rubbery and typically pass safely through the digestive tract.

But cooked poultry bones are very dangerous. Cooking “crystallizes” the bone structure so that it shatters into long, razor-sharp slivers, which can puncture or lacerate your dog’s mouth, throat, and intestines, or obstruct his bowels and require surgery.

Don't give rich gravies or sauces, or food that's spicy, buttered, or salted.

Equally dangerous on Thanksgiving Day is your dog being fed rich greasy Thanksgiving leftovers, which can cause digestive upsets or, much worse, a serious digestive disorder called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Pancreatitis requires a visit to the vet – often a sudden emergency room visit in the middle of the night. Some dogs die from it. Pancreatitis can strike any dog, but be especially vigilant with smaller, middle-aged or older dogs.

This doesn’t mean your dog can’t partake of your holiday meal, especially if his REGULAR meals already consist of (or include) real food – which they should. See my feeding page.

The best Thanksgiving Day leftovers to add to your dog’s dish are wholesome:

  • Plain turkey meat. No gravy, or just very minimal gravy.
  • Plain vegetables such as squash or sweet potato. Unsalted and unbuttered.
  • Crumbled cornbread.

Add only a tiny bit if he’s unaccustomed to real food, and remember – no rich, spicy, or high-carb foods like sauces, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, or pies.