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As dog owners, we always want to do what’s best for our beloved four-legged friends and we try to do what we can to ensure they are safe. Crate training is one of the ways we can help create a safe environment for our pups.
While crate training in and of itself is generally considered safe for dogs, there are some things we still need to keep in mind when our dogs are crated, including the temperature of the crate and being mindful of when it can become uncomfortable (or even dangerous) for a dog to be in the crate if temperatures exceed a certain amount.
But how hot can a dog crate be before it becomes a safety issue?
The risk of heatstroke in any scenario (including within the crate) increases significantly above 80° F so dogs should not be housed in crates that are above or close to this temperature. Humidity, airflow, and direct sunlight can all affect crate temperature, and managing these variables can help keep your dog comfortable and prevent overheating.
Below we’ll look at how different dogs handle heat and how that translates to being in a crate. We’ll discuss how you can make your dog’s crate safe when in high heat environments, what can happen if your dog gets too hot within their crate, how the crate type and style can affect heat, and what you can do to make sure your dog does not overheat in their crate while traveling.
Let’s get started!
What Temperature Is Too Hot For A Dog In A Crate?
A healthy adult dog’s normal internal temperature is generally around 100-101.5°F (37.7-38.6°C), with puppies and dogs with high metabolisms having a higher core temperature. Because dogs do not have the same sweat glands that we humans do, it is much harder for them to cool off when exposed to high external temperatures.
Dogs are only able to cool themselves through an expansion of their red blood vessels or through panting. Contrary to popular belief, while dogs do have small sweat glands on the bottoms of their paws these sweat glands do not make enough of a difference when a dog is in high heat and will do little to help cool the dog down.
Dogs whose body temperatures are above 103°F (39.4°C) are at risk for developing heat stroke and action should be taken to cool the dog down safely. Dogs whose body temperatures rise above 106°F (41°C) without any preexisting illness should be considered as actively suffering from heat stroke and should be taken to the nearest veterinarian immediately.
If your dog’s crate exceeds a comfortable temperature for the dog, and your dog is unable to cool themselves down enough, then you may risk exposing your dog to heatstroke (also called hyperthermia).
Similar to deciding if it’s too hot to walk your dog, if the room your dog’s crate is in is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pup! There’s also plenty of science to support that temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are a clear danger zone for dogs. This risk can be increased when you consider that a dog can’t move to a cooler spot when they’re housed in their crate.
Still, to know what temperature you should try and keep your dog’s crate at, you need to take into consideration the dog’s breed, age, health status, how long the dog will be exposed to the high temperatures, if the dog will have access to water, and even your dog’s individual preference! You should also know the risk signs of heat stroke and this video does a great job showing you what to look for:
If your dog is going to be left in the crate for an extended period of time, such as while you are at work, you may also need to lower the temperature to a cooler setting than you would if you were only leaving your pup in the crate for a few minutes while you go and get the groceries out of the car, and you may also need to leave water to help keep him cool and hydrated within the crate.
How Do I Prevent My Dog’s Crate From Becoming Too Hot?
There are a few different ways you can make sure your dog’s crate does not reach too high of a temperature.
1. Avoid Direct Sunlight Or Areas With Limited Airflow
While your pup may enjoy the occasional sunbathing experience, keeping their crate in direct sunlight can cause temperatures and your dog’s body heat to quickly rise to unhealthy levels.
If you have a dog with a darker coat, being in direct sunlight can cause their body temperatures to rise faster than if they had a lighter colored coat.
Dogs should not be kept locked in a dark room all day but being smart about the placement of your dog’s crate so that it receives light but is not directly within the sun’s rays for long periods of time is important to keep your pup comfortable.
Similarly, placing a crate in a room with little to no airflow can also cause an issue.
While some owners prefer to keep their pup’s crate in the garage, if you are unable to provide a way to help keep your dog cool when it gets too stuffy then it’s best to only crate your dog in the garage during the evening hours or cooler months.
Even if you crack the garage door open or you have a fan blowing towards your dog, the external temperature can still reach unsafe levels and could impact the comfort and safety of your dog.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all for crate placement, you can work with what you have to make sure your dog’s crate is safe for them to be in no matter what the temperature outside is.
2. Make Sure Your Dog Has Room To Move And Avoid Hotter Areas
In order to be comfortable for a dog, the crate should be big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lay down in without being forced to curl themselves into a ball (but not so big that it could impact the house training process if you’re dealing with a puppy).
If you’ve ever watched your dog napping in the sun, chances are he’ll fully spread his limbs out or will turn over and lay on his back with his stomach to the sun.
In the crate, spreading out helps with airflow on their body so making sure the crate is large enough that your pup can spread their limbs out a bit or they can rotate to their back will help with keeping them cool.
3. Consider Crate Accessories To Keep Pups Comfortable
If you’ve ever been on a bed with too many pillows, blankets, or comforters during the summer months, then you understand why it might not be a good idea to include too many of those “comforts” in your dog’s crate!
While a big fleece bed may be comfortable in the winter months, in the heat of the summer most dogs will usually prefer to lay on a thinner cooling mat, or just the plastic of the crate bottom.
Some accessories that you can include to help with keeping your pup cool in the crate, though, are a crate fan, crate cover, and a water dish or attachable water bottle. You can get a dog crate-specific fan (which is usually battery powered and has no cords for the dog to chew on) or you can look into clip-on fans that are generally marketed towards hikers and athletes.
Crate covers come in a variety of fabrics and styles (this style is a very popular one), and there are several on the market (such as this one) that are often utilized for sporting or working dogs to help keep their crates cool by reflecting light and heat away from the crate while the dogs are outside in the field waiting for their turn to work.
Finally, including access to water within the crate is necessary in high temperatures, especially if your dog is going to be crated for an extended period of time. Including a bowl within the crate (either on the floor or attached to the wire of the crate with clips) or attaching a dog-specific water bottle to the outside of the crate will help keep your pup hydrated in the hotter temperatures.
4. Consider Your Dog’s Age, Health, and Comfort Needs
Some dogs are more prone to over heating than others, both individually and as a breed. Just as some people are not as heat tolerant as others, so too are different dogs.
Certain breeds, such as Boxers and French Bulldogs, tend to overheat easier due to their facial structure. Other breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, may be less heat tolerant due to their coat type.
A thin-skinned dog or a dog with a shaved coat may also be more prone to heat intolerance and burning of their skin if exposed to direct sunlight or hot surfaces.
Puppies and dogs with higher metabolisms may also be more susceptible to heat illnesses if exposed to high temperatures for too long, as are senior dogs who are more prone to illness and injury due to the natural effects of the aging process.
Dogs who have a medical condition, particularly those who suffer from thyroid conditions, diabetes, certain cancers, or epileptic disorders, may not be as heat tolerant as a healthy dog and special care should be taken to make sure their crate is at a comfortable temperature at all times.
Even on the individual level, some dogs just do not like the heat and prefer a cooler temperature in their living space.
Is It Bad If My Dog’s Crate Goes Above A Certain Temperature?
Yes. If your dog’s crate goes above a certain temperature and your pup is exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time, there is a high likelihood that they will develop a heat-related illness, such as heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke include dry gums, abnormal gum color, rapid breathing or excessive panting, lethargy or disorientation, muscle spasms, and seizures. Even short exposure to high temperatures can impact a dog’s body and can have an effect on their organ function (particularly their kidneys due to dehydration), cognitive function, and overall mental and physical health.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency in dogs and can quickly lead to death, so if you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke you should rush them to your nearest emergency veterinarian as quickly as possible.
What Type Of Dog Crate Will Keep My Dog The Coolest?
There is no one particular crate that will keep your dog cooler than another, and it’s more related to your individual dog and living situation as to what type of crate would work best for you and your pup.
But there are a few pros and cons to some of the more popular types of dog crates that could affect your choice.
Plastic Dog Crates
Heavy-duty plastic dog crates, similar to what you would transport a dog in an airplane with, are more enclosed than a wire dog crate, and airflow must be monitored to avoid trapping in heat.
If you have a larger dog or a dog who tends to get antsy within the crate, a plastic crate might be more anxiety-inducing due to the enclosed sides and your dog may begin panting heavily or pace around the crate, both of which can increase their body temperature and heart rate, and which can impact how quickly they are able to cool down their bodies. It’s also possible to find plastic crates that are large enough for bigger breeds like Rotties and with a little modification you can even fit a Great Dane in a plastic crate.
However, if the plastic crate is kept in a cooler location away from direct sunlight, the “insulation” of the plastic might actually keep the area inside cooler, provided external temperatures do not get too hot, there is ample airflow around the crate, and your pup stays fairly relaxed while within the crate.
Wire Dog Crates
Metal wire dog crates are one of the most popular choices for a dog crate, and they have the advantage of allowing extensive airflow due to not being enclosed.
The downside to this is that there is no shade and nothing keeping the hot air out of the crate. Wire dog crates also have the advantage of being easy to collapse and move around, so if you find that you need to move your dog’s crate frequently a wire crate might be the better option.
Most crate accessories are also fitted specifically to wire crates, so it’s usually easier to find a crate cover or a water dish for your dog’s wire crate than another type of crate.
Aluminum crates are often geared towards working dogs, sporting dogs, or dogs who frequently travel for competitions.
These crates tend to be very expensive but are lightweight and tend to stay fairly cool even in higher temperatures due most of them having a special coating to reflect sunlight and heat away from the crate.
A lot of them are also available with special reflective crate covers that add an additional layer of protection from the heat.
How Can I Keep My Dog Cool While He Is Being Transported In His Crate?
If you are transporting your dog while they are in their crate, can do a couple of things to make sure they are kept at a comfortable temperature and don’t get too hot.
First, make sure you never leave your dog in a hot car, even when they are in their crate. Cracking the windows is not enough to keep your dog cool!
Keeping the crate out of direct sunlight while you are transporting your dog is also helpful in keeping them cool. Choosing a crate that fits appropriately in your vehicle is also important, and some crates are better than others for that purpose.
You can also aim your vehicle’s A/C vents towards your dog’s crate or use a crate fan or clip-on fan to provide airflow.
Allowing your pup frequent breaks from the crate on your journey will not only allow them to stretch their legs but can help keep them from stressing out and raising their body temperature.
Providing them with water breaks will help keep them hydrated, which can also assist with keeping them cool and their organ functioning correctly.
Of course, giving your pup something to do while they are in their crate for a long car journey is important as well!
If you are flying with your pup and you cannot bring them in the cabin with you, it’s best to travel only during cooler months.
In fact, many airlines do not allow pets to travel in the cargo hold during summer months due to frequent overheating in the kennels and a lack of access to airflow and A/C units.
If you must travel with your pup during the summer months, it’s usually safest to opt for driving rather than by plane, or you can look for a plane that will allow you to purchase a seat for your pup within the cabin.
Crate training is an extremely beneficial aspect to caring for our dogs, but we do still need to make sure we keep our pups safe by being mindful of where we are placing the crate and how the ambient temperature and external environment can affect the safety of our dog’s crate.
Knowing how to prevent our dog’s crate from becoming too hot is important to ensuring they are happy, healthy, and cool, even in the hottest of temperatures!