I am a Barbet owner, but I am also a Newfoundland owner hence my freely admitted obsession with avoiding dogs overheating (Newfoundlands have one of the heaviest coats around and, unless a Landseer, are dark in colour too - black or brown in this country)!!! Some of you in the UK may remember a terrible, tragic incident involving the death, from heatstroke, of a van- load  of Newfoundlands in a motorway service station car-park, which hit the news headlines in a major way some years ago. I was hyper-concerned before that, but after it, as I say, I am now obsessed and I make no apologies for being so!! First of all TAKE NOTE . . .  dogs can overheat, especially in vehicles, at almost any time of year if certain weather conditions prevail. I am lucky enough to have a van specially kitted out for dogs (although no aircon!!) so it is easier than with some cars to put all this into practice, but whatever vehicle you have. . . take care of your dogs!
1. The sun does NOT have to be shining brightly, in fact it need not be shining at all, for overheating to result.

2. Leaving the windows open, even if they are wide  open, or using a “Ventlock”  will not stop the vehicle or dog overheating.

3. Leaving a bowl of water for the dog will not prevent overheating

4. Leaving the vehicle in shade is not necessarily any good as a) the sun moves round and b) if the ambient temperature is sufficiently high the shade will not counteract its effect.

5. Leaving your dog in a vehicle on a warm/hot day “just for 5 minutes” is not acceptable. Thermal gain (also known as Solar gain) can ensue and while you are detained at the shop checkout  . . .  your dog could DIE!!

Here are some tips I have worked out over the years when travelling all over the country to working test events with Newfoundlands (and other dogs) both as a participant and as a Judge.

1.      Fill  large empty plastic drinks bottles with water and freeze. Wrap in a towel or similar (this is important) and place  with dog in the area in which it is travelling . . .  usually its crate or dog box. These act like hot water bottles in reverse i.e. cold water bottles! There is the added bonus that as they thaw, you will have a supply of very cold drinking water for your dog. You can use wrapped freezer packs, but these don’t have the bonus effect of providing a drink!

2.      Use a crate fan. The best sort are the ones with a detachable freezable cartridge which is placed in the freezer overnight in the manner of those freezer packs for cool bags as mentioned above.
This is what I am talking about - they are available (amongst other places) from Canine Concepts (a good company I have dealt with many times)


3.      Get one or more “dog towels”  - soak in cold water and squeeze out the surplus water. Fold neatly, as flat as you can to a thick pad that will fit into your freezer. Place in freezer  and freeze solid. When embarking on your journey take out of the freezer and place in dog crate under a dry towel so the dog can lie on top of the cold pad. NB Take care with this!! I gave this tip to a friend who carried out the instructions BUT when placing the towel in the freezer had allowed it to “drape” over the various packages therein as it was not folded sufficiently thickly!!. When the morning came she was unable to remove the frozen towel as it was “embedded” in the contents of her freezer!!!

4.      Take with you a large spray bottle (I use one of those pump-up garden sprays) fill with cold water (and ice cubes if you can fit them in through the neck of the bottle) You can then spray your dog with a fine mist at frequent intervals …. Remember your school science!! - evaporation causes cooling!!

5.      To take advantage of the cooling effect of evaporation you can, of course,  also wet your dog’s coat thoroughly, before or during  the journey or on arrival at the destination and at intervals during the day.

6.      Ensure that you have dark tinted windows in your vehicle or good sunshades that cover the whole window (NOT those ones that just cover a patch in the middle. Consider these “Windowsox”, although not cheap, they will function very well even with the windows wound down fully!! http://www.windowsox.co.uk/?gclid=CNm_-ODogrACFY5pfAodsmzujg


7.      If, perhaps, you are travelling in somebody else’s vehicle, without good shading, or do not have tinted windows, you could use a “silver sheet” over the dog crate to reflect any sun falling on it but ensure there is sufficient ventilation if you are using a solid sheet. The "solid" silver sheets are good but the mesh ones (rather more expensive) are MUCH better and are available from here   http://canineconcepts.co.uk/en/cooling-your-dog/3486-proselect-dog-crate-car-solar-covers.html

9.      The "Canine Cooler" : This is another excellent product and I have used a couple of these very successfully. However there is one big disadvantage (apart from the price) . . . once filled with water they are VERY heavy so you would not be able easily to take them in and out of your vehicle, but are ideal if you can leave them in situ. http://www.soothsoft.co.uk/


10.       I have two of these "Miracool Mats" they are very efficient! You have to soak the mat in water for 30 mins in advance and the “magic” crystals absorb the water … again, it works by evaporation. Available from 
It does, however, take a long time to dry out if you won't be needing it again soon and want to put it away somewhere!!

11.      NEVER  put your dog in the back of a hatchback without good protection! I’m sure you’ve seen cars on the motorway with the family pet squashed in the back with the sun burning down on him through the back window. The human passengers may be OK with their windows open and shaded by the roof of the car, but the dog will be suffering greatly.

"COOLING COATS" : There are assorted “cooling coats” available online ranging from the reasonably priced to the downright ridiculous!! Some people swear by them, but generally they are very expensive and unless it is ABSOLUTELY UNAVOIDABLE to have your dog outside in extreme heat which is NEVER a good idea, the solutions I have described above should more than suffice.

Finally there are some novelty ideas …. These are NOT serious ideas for keeping your dog cool, but can be fun for your dog in warm weather!!

SPECIAL ICE CREAM FOR DOGS!!! (although mine quite like "human" ice cream!! ..................

 For strawberry & apple,  apple, banana and carrot flavours http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/ice-cream-for-dogs-goes-on-sale-742268

For Pork & Vanilla flavour  

OR why not give your dog ice cubes to chew or suck, frozen carrots (also good for teething puppies!) are enjoyed by some dogs (especially those on the BARF diet who are used to the taste of raw vegetables.)

5/24/2012 08:27:46 pm

Brilliant article Fi......Well done........Will share and keep sharing. x

5/24/2012 10:07:42 pm

Thanks - I hope I've got it all covered!!

Joanne Smith
5/25/2012 10:16:36 am

Thank you. I am a first-time Leonberger mom. I will be traveling with Aengus this summer and I appreciate the advice.

Rosa Stewart
5/27/2012 11:43:31 pm

Timely information; specially the misconceptions.
I will pass it to friends with dogs.

7/4/2015 02:39:01 pm

Great article. Plenty of useful information here. I am sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you on your effort!


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