It’s a hot summer day, and you’re out driving with your dog in the car. You crack the windows to let in some air, but your dog is still panting heavily. Why is your dog so uncomfortable in the car? Sometimes you may have an internal car system failure, which if is the case you may need to look into the best local dealers or look online to potentially find a new car, should you need to.
Turns out, there are a few reasons why dogs pant in cars – and some of them might surprise you. Read on to learn more about why dogs pant in cars, and how you can help make their rides a little more comfortable.
Dogs pant to cool themselves off
Dogs pant to cool themselves off. When a dog pants, it is rapidly expelling hot air from the lungs and mouth which causes evaporative cooling of the moist tissues lining the respiratory tract. The evaporation of water on these tissues lowers their temperature, providing relief from heat stress.
Dogs are very sensitive to heat because they have limited sweat glands in their skin and can’t regulate their body temperature internally as humans do. Panting helps them stay cool by taking advantage of the moisture that’s already present on flaps inside their mouths which act as an additional surface area for evaporation to take place.
Panting is a dog’s primary means for cooling down
Dogs are efficient at cooling off because they have a faster respiratory rate than people do. Unlike humans who breathe in and out through the nose and mouth, dogs typically only use their noses to breathe.
When a dog pants, they exhale about 5-10 times as rapidly as humans do. The air exhaled is typically 10-12 degrees cooler than their body temperature. Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with small faces like pugs and bulldogs) don’t pant as effectively because they can’t open their mouths very wide or take in a lot of air at once.
When a car heats up, dogs can’t pant as much and they start to overheat
Dogs overheat in hot cars because they can’t pant as effectively. When a car heats up, the dog can’t expel the hot air from their lungs as rapidly, and they start to overheat. Additionally, dogs can’t sweat as humans do, so they rely on panting to cool themselves down.
Your dog might be in pain or discomfort
If your dog is panting excessively in the car, it might be because they’re in pain or discomfort. Some dogs are more resilient than others and might not express that they are suffering as clearly. A dog might also start panting if it suffers from car anxiety or car sickness. However, here are some common signs that a dog is in pain or discomfort:
- Whining or whimpering
- Restlessness or agitation
- Lying down constantly
- Excessive drooling
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Your dog could be in the mood to play
Car journeys can be exciting for dogs. Their senses are bombarded with new sights, smells, and sounds, and this can a lot for a dog to take in. If your dog is bright-eyed and panting while wagging its tail, there is no need to worry. Your furry friend is just happy to be spending time with you and wants to play. Once your dog has settled in for the ride, the panting should slow down.
How to keep your dog cool on long road trips and prevent excessive panting
- Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink before you set off on your journey.
- Take your dog for a long walk in the morning before any long journeys to calm down a particularly excitable pet.
- Take regular breaks so your dog can get some exercise and have a drink of water.
- If possible, try to travel during the cooler parts of the day – check the temperature before you leave to make sure it is safe to travel.
- Make sure your car is well ventilated and that there is plenty of shade for your dog to relax in.
- Pack a few cold drinks and snacks for both you and your pet like frozen bananas dipped in dog-friendly peanut butter.
Tips for traveling with multiple dogs
Traveling with more than one pet can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s doable if you make plans. Here are a few tips to help make the process as smooth as possible:
- Make sure you have enough food and water for everyone.
- Bring plenty of toys and treats to calm your dogs and keep them entertained.
- Pack a blanket or bed for each pet to sleep on.
- If you’re traveling by car, be sure to pack a pet carrier for each pet.
- Make sure they are not fighting for air space near the vents or windows.
If you are going on a vacation with your pets, you may have to book a hotel or resort that allows pets. You can also make a checklist to remember all the important things you have to take with you, including beds, cleaning supplies, poop bags, ID tags, first aid, chew toys, etc. Planning last minute dog friendly short breaks can be a bit stressful but with proper preparation, you and your family can have a great and relaxing vacation.
Panting is a normal dog behavior – and rarely a cause for concern
It’s not uncommon for dogs to pant in the car. This may be why you see your dog breathing heavily, sitting on its haunches, or even drooling while riding around with you. Dogs are sensitive creatures who experience stress and anxiety just like humans do. They also have trouble regulating their body temperature due to their fur.
Ultimately, it can get very hot inside a vehicle that has no air circulation. Although panting could be a sign that your dog feels too hot, car rides can also be exciting, especially for younger dogs. Above all, this is why drivers must keep an eye out for signs of distress from their four-legged passengers before things escalate into something serious.