Going on a road trip—no matter how long—with your best four-legged friends can be really fun and make for a memorable adventure. It’s way better and cheaper than leaving them at home with a pet sitter or bringing them to a local boarding facility until you get back.
That being said, there are several precautions to take when travelling with a dog or cat, especially in the summer when temperatures can become excessively hot. Animal safety is not to be taken too lightly.
The first and most important thing, of course, is to make sure they are secure and either in their own cage or tethered to a secure cargo point or seatbelt clip. Even if you’re in a rush to hit the road, never make the mistake of securing your pet by their collar as they could injure themselves in the event of an emergency braking situation. You should always use a good-fitting harness or a crash-tested pet seatbelt.
Keeping a leash handy and attaching it to the collar means you can get control of your dog or cat before you unsecure them, thus preventing them from jumping out of the car when the door is opened.
On hot days, turning the A/C on is a wise thing to do, but remember it does not always reach the back seat or the cargo area where pets are travelling. Consider getting sun shades for the side windows and/or a cool mat for them to sit on. Carry a water bottle or bowl so you can keep them hydrated, as well.
Planning a long trip? Regular stops allow dogs to stretch their legs, but be careful as the road surface might be too hot for their paws. Put the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds—if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. It’s better to stop somewhere where they have access to a grassy area.
If you need to do a quick errand or if your car somehow breaks down, you should avoid leaving them inside as it only takes a few minutes for pets—dogs in particular—to become very distressed and start suffering from heatstroke.
When the temperature outside is 25°C, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 37°C in just minutes. On a 35°C day, it can reach as high as 43°C in less than 10 minutes.
If you see another pet locked in a hot car with no open windows, call 9-1-1 and explain the situation by providing as many details as possible.