Alaska life hack: Keep your dog cool



Over the course of a half an hour on July 4, the Girdwood Fire Department responded to three reports of dogs locked inside cars.

They were hot dogs in hot cars on their way to a slow death.

Alaskans aren’t always mindful of car temperatures being too much for their pets, but dogs, like humans, are feeling this record-breaking heat.

Dogs don’t sweat, and they need lots of water and shade when temperatures rise. If the temperature outside is hotter than 70 degrees, your dog could be in danger — surprisingly quickly — if left in a locked car, says

At 70 degrees outside, a car can heat up to 89 degrees in 10 minutes, and to 104 in 30 minutes. At 80 degrees, the inside of your car will reach 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 114 degrees in 30 minutes.


Dogs that are overheated can get heat stroke, and if they do, it’s serious, even fatal. Signs include excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and very red gums, according to Your best friend could end up in cardiac arrest from being overheated.

Heat stroke in your dog means you should get to a veterinarian quickly. If no vet is available, or even before you attempt to get to a vet, try getting your dog into a tub of cool water or hose your furry friend down with a garden hose, being sure to empty the hot water out of the hose first.

Do not give your dog aspirin, says, and be extremely careful to keep the dog’s mouth and nose out of water while you cool it down. You don’t want Duke or Daisy to acquire pneumonia from aspirating the water. Allow your dog to drink as much water as it wants, but don’t force it.

Check for signs of shock, and take your dog’s temperature, continuing cooling it with water until its temperature drops below 103 degrees F, the experts advise.

Dogs with thick fur — and many in Alaska are blessed with an abundance of hair — or dogs that are obese are especially vulnerable. But so are dogs that are active and accustomed to expending a lot of energy, such as labs and retrievers. Working dogs on the move in our cold climate are vulnerable when unseasonably hot weather sets in.

Heatstroke in dogs can cause cellular damage, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood. Death occurs in some 50 percent of cases.

On the way to the veterinarian, put your car air conditioner on as cool as you can make it. Your vet will likely administer fluids intravenously and monitor your dog’s vitals.


  1. Especially treacherous season for huskies stuck on “tethers” throughout “dog lots” in Alaska.

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