If you’re planning a long getaway with your dog this summer, one consideration must be the comfort and safety of your pet.
As part of 2017’s Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign, the RSPCA is advising pet owners on how to keep their dogs safe in the car.
“Our pet dogs are part of the family so it’s great that so many families choose to holiday in the UK and take their canine companion to join in the fun,” RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards said.
“There are lots of lovely parts of this country which can best be enjoyed and explored by walking so holidaying closer to home is a great opportunity to get out with your dog and see what the UK has to offer.
“But before you arrive at your destination, you need to get there and you could be facing a long journey with your four-legged friend and other family members in the car and it’s really important to make sure everyone is safe, secure and comfortable for the duration of the drive.”
Before you leave
Many dogs struggle with travel, often due to motion sickness or anxiety, so it’s really important to teach them gradually – using positive, reward-based training methods – that being in the car isn’t scary. Take them on lots of little car journeys first at a young age to help them get used to the experience.
Dogs travel better without a full stomach so feed them more than two hours before the journey and give them a chance to go to the toilet before you leave.
During the journey
Take regular breaks on the journey so your dog can exercise, toilet and have a drink of water.
Keep a close eye on them whilst travelling, checking for signs of travel-related problems such as barking, whining, jumping, attempting to run around the car, salivating, vomiting, attention-seeking, licking, cowering, hiding or restlessness.
Do not punish your dog if you notice any signs, and speak to a vet or behaviourist for advice.
Secure and safe
The UK’s Highway Code states dogs should be suitably restrained in a vehicle so they are safe during an emergency stop and so they do not distract the driver.
Travelling crates and containers, dog guards and car harnesses are all suitable ways to secure your pet when travelling. It’s important that your dog is comfortable whatever method you choose, and that they have good airflow and ventilation. Bedding inside the crate or boot can prevent them from slipping.
Never leave your pet in a vehicle when parked up on a warm day. If going away, make sure you have somewhere safe and cool to leave your dog at your accommodation and visit dog-friendly places so your dog can come with you.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said, “Dogs should never be left alone in the car. Even on a cloudy day with the windows open, the temperature in your car can soar dangerously high in just a few minutes, which can cause fatal heatstroke.
“Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their body like humans. They only have a few in the pads of their feet and their main way of cooling down is by panting. Once all methods of cooling their body down are overwhelmed, as is often the case in hot cars, heatstroke begins to develop.”
If you see a dog in a car on a warm day and are concerned for his/her welfare, please alert police by dialling 999.