white and black short coat puppy on black window car
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Windows open in your car on a beautiful spring or summer day. Your dog nudges its head out the window, ears flapping, mouth open and obviously enjoying the experience. But is it safe?

And how safe is it to leave a dog untethered in the cargo area of a pickup truck, or left inside a locked car when the car’s owner runs into a nearby store?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “un-caged dogs” that “ride in the beds of pickup trucks are at risk of severe injury.” Each year, the association says, 100,000 dog are killed by jumping or falling from a pickup truck’s cargo area.

Walking dogs on hot asphalt or sand, over-exercising a dog in hot weather, ticks, and exposure to toxic plants are just some of the concerns that various group raise as the weather warms up, and we naturally look to be outdoors with our pets.

We’ve looked at several organizations and prepared a small list of things of which pet owners should be aware in spring and summer. Here’s what we found:

  • Hot weather poses special risks for dogs, from an increased exposure to ticks and other insects, to sunburn and even heat stroke, warns the American Kennel Club (AKC).
  • “Give your dog a shady spot to hang out on hot days or keep him inside where there’s air-conditioning. Doghouses are not good shelter in the summer because they can trap heat … Fill a child-size wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.” – AKC
  • Never leave your pet in a closed vehicle. Here’s what Goodcalculators.com says about the heat. 
    • At 70 degrees outside, after just 10 minutes the temperature inside the car reach 89 degrees, after 20 minutes it reaches 99, after a half hour it reaches 104, and in an hour, it reaches 113.
    • At 80 degrees outside, after just 10 minutes the temperature inside the car reach 99 degrees, after 20 minutes it reaches 109, after a half hour it reaches 114, and in an hour, it reaches 123. 
    • At 90 degrees outside, after just 10 minutes the temperature inside the car reach 109 degrees, after 20 minutes it reaches 119, after a half hour it reaches 124, and in an hour, it reaches 133. 
  • The AKC also recommends providing plenty of cool, fresh water, avoid exercising your dog strenuously on extremely hot days, taking walks in the early mornings or evenings, avoid exposing your dog to hot asphalt or sand for any prolonged period (it can burn his paws), make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date, Keep dogs off lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from toxic plants and flowers, don’t let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick.
  • PETSFEET also suggests brushing pets regularly in the summer to clear out any unwanted loose hair from the pet’s coat that may be trapping heat.
  • The American Human Society warns that regular exercise can be dangerous for pets during summer that don’t have the same capacity to perspire as humans and are limited in how they can cook themselves.
  • Rhode Island is among a handful of states that make it illegal to drive with a pet in your truck bed.
  • Numerous sites also warn about driving with your dog’s had sticking out a window. Dogs, says Pet Health Network, “are oblivious to the dangers of their precarious perch. Few people would even think of allowing their children to hang heads out of a car window, or to stick their heads out of a sunroof, but they still allow their pets to risk serious injury by doing so.  Dogs love the wind in their face, but bad things can happen. First, foreign objects like leaves, insects and rocks can strike them with tremendous velocity… a dog could jump through an open window or be thrown from the car during a swerve or collision.” 
  • How many times do we pass cars where the driver has a small dog on his or her lap, one sitting beside them in the passenger seat? Pet Health Network says having a dog on your lap can result in impaired vision, inability to operate controls and even interference problems with steering.” AAA reported that 20 percent of participants in a 2010 survey admitted to letting their dog sit on their lap while driving, and 31 percent said they were distracted by their dog while driving.
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Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.