Multiple readers weigh in on how to keep Fido safe in the car.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2004

Dear Tom and Ray:

Regarding the article on keeping Fido safe and cool in the car, you were close, but no cigar. The answer, as you've probably heard a hundred times by now, is that Fido needs a dog crate, preferably a wire one in the summertime for maximum airflow. Since the writer said she would consider changing vehicles if necessary, she might consider an SUV, since crates for medium and large dogs won't fit into most cars. Crates are not cages; dogs love them, they feel safe in them and they even go in them when they don't have to at home. They also stop dogs from jumping around in vehicles and distracting the driver. Crates come in all sizes. They allow the dogs to have constant fresh air in vehicles. There are several products that allow one to attach fresh-water gadgets to the crates, too. Many of us have crated our dogs at dog shows, hunt tests, field trials and other events for hours and hours without problems.

-- KJ

TOM: Thanks. We're still getting mail about our dogs-and-cars column. If you missed it, you can find it, along with any of our previous columns, at our Web site,

RAY: We want to remind folks that we don't recommend leaving your dog in a car at all. But when it's necessary, serious precautions need to be taken to keep Fido from overheating. Here's some more mail on the subject:

Dear Tom and Ray:

I read an article in your column about leaving Fido in a car. Once the obvious safety concerns are addressed, drivers can look at a police K-9 equipment supplier's Web site for accessories. One site that I use for stuff I really don't need, but really want, is This company is in Lexington, Ky., and has an excellent showroom to browse. It has all sorts of things, like fans that mount in a rolled-up window, remote-controlled door openers, and I think (thinking is getting harder with less hair up top and only weeks to go till retirement) it has temperature alarms used as a backup if a fan or AC breaks down. Considering the critters' safety is important, but you must also consider some kid coming by to have Fido lick his finger through the partially opened window. The problem is that kids' fingers look just like K-9 Buffalo wings. -- Steve

Dear Tom and Ray:

Your idea of using a 12-volt fan is great. Check out the newest and best we've found at Its "endless breeze" moves up to 900 cubic feet per minute on high and draws less than 3 amps. We found it at a dog show. We enjoy your show and column. -- Dave

Dear Tom and Ray:

With a nod toward your answer to the woman who wanted a Rube Goldberg contraption so she could keep her dog in her vehicle while she's attending an "event or meeting" (meaning: she's bar-hopping), and your subsequent suggestion that she place the pooch in the open camper shell of her pickup truck, that is a HORRIBLE idea! As a man who has owned a number of pickups with shells on them, I have to say that campers become absolute thermal ovens in hot weather, ventilation or no ventilation. All that surrounds the bed of the truck is metal, which conducts a tremendous amount of heat into the interior of the bed area. Fido would become a true hot dog in no time flat. Even if the camper and all sides of the bed were insulated, it could still become hot enough to endanger a dog. Nope -- Rover should be left at home to relax in her air-conditioned condo while Deby is downtown puttin' on the dog. -- Miltiades

RAY: Well, we have no indication that Deby was barhopping. She sounded like she had legitimate reasons to stop and go places where the dog was not allowed. Like the casino!

TOM: Nevertheless, it's hard to argue with leaving Fido at home. Especially if you have any doubts about your ability to provide a cool, safe, ventilated enclosure. So, we'll give Miltiades the last word today. Thanks for writing, everyone.

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