The Chihuahua is the dog breed most commonly seen being ported around in a special pet carrier or pet handbag, or various other items designed to accommodate small dogs and carry them about, including body slings and backpacks!
These have a lot of applications and can be very useful, allowing you to take your dog to places they might not otherwise be able to go; like on the London underground where dogs must be carried on escalators and will generally be safer is they’re small if they’re not underfoot.
For many Chihuahua owners and the owners of other petite toy dog breeds too, using pet carriers or dog handbags is a regular part of their lives, and something that both owner and dog are very used to.
There are downsides of these types of carriers too, however, and they should not be used all the time, as small dogs do still need to be walked, and meet the world at their natural height; but used sensibly and responsibly, they can make life easier for toy dog owners.
However, if you carry your Chihuahua or other small dog in any of the various types of pet handbags and similar carriers you can buy for just this purpose, there is something else you should be aware of, and this is the fact that you need to use such carriers very carefully in the summer to ensure they don’t cause your dog to overheat or even develop heatstroke.
This article will explain how using a dog handbag or carrier can contribute to the development of heatstroke in small dogs, and the factors to consider when choosing and using such a carrier to make sure that your dog stays safe and comfortable. Read on to learn more.
Carriers of all types designed to carry dogs incorporate a spot for the dog to get their head out and mesh ventilation, but they are also padded to a degree for comfort and safety, which also serves as insulation.
Depending on the type of insulation used, this might help to prevent the carrier heating all the way through when it is hot outside, but your dog generates heat too and this can result in the inside of the carrier being uncomfortably warm when the weather is hot, which can be dangerous.
Carrying a dog in the midday heat or full sun is no better than walking them
All dog owners know that it is not a good idea to walk their dogs in the hottest hours of the day as they can quickly overheat, but a dog in a carrier in the same heat won’t fare much better. They won’t be exerting themselves obviously, but dogs naturally seek cooler spots in hot weather, which they cannot do if carried in what is likely to be a warm carrier.
If you use a carrier that is designed in the style of a backpack or papoose to carry your dog, the carrier itself will be in contact with your body and this in turn will increase the temperature inside of the bag too.
Your dog cannot choose to seek shade
All dogs should be able to get to shade and pick a place they can cool down and be comfortable in hot weather, and if your dog is in a carrier, they cannot do this. This means they can’t get out of the sun if they wish to, and their only choices are have their head out in full sun or to tuck it inside of the carrier where the temperature might be higher and they’ll struggle to get enough air, even given inbuilt ventilation.
Most of us remember learning in high school science classes that black and dark colours absorb more heat and make the temperature higher than white and light colours, and this means that even the colour of your dog carrier can contribute to making it hotter on the inside.
Some carriers made of synthetic fabrics aren’t breathable either – many carriers are lined or covered in vinyl-type materials to make them easier to keep clean – which can mean that even the outside of the carrier feels hot to the touch, especially if it is a dark colour too. The inside where your dog is will be even hotter.
A dog in a carrier can’t get to their water bowl, which is integral to not only keeping them hydrated but also vital to assisting them to stay cool too.
You might easily overlook all of the potential problems because your dog is close at hand
Finally, one of the biggest summer pet carrier risks for dogs is down to human error; because your dog is right there with you it is easy to assume that they’re automatically fine, and that you would immediately be aware if that was not the case.
This means that even though your dog is in close proximity you might be totally unaware that they’re overheating, which tends to happen quickly, and dogs usually do this very quietly other than potentially for the sound of their panting.