Take extra care with your dog in the car this summer

Posted on June 23rd, 2014 by GEM Motoring Assist

Harnessed dog - photo by the Dogs TrustA dog in a car can die of heatstroke in 15 minutes, warns motoring and road safety organisation.

  • If you’re concerned about a dog’s welfare, contact the police.

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging pet owners to ensure their animals are safe and comfortable on car journeys this summer.

Referring to the summer edition of GEM’s quarterly member magazine, Good Motoring, GEM chief executive David Williams pulls together an array of practical and sensible information that will ensure travelling pets stay happy and healthy on journeys.

Keep them secure

GEM advises against allowing dogs to sit on someone’s lap or to have their head out of the window on a journey. “It wouldn’t be acceptable to let a child do this, and the same principle applies for dogs. They need to be kept secure in the car so they can’t distract the driver and won’t get catapulted around the vehicle if there’s an accident or a sudden need to make an emergency stop,” says David Williams.

Keep them cool

Dogs can’t cool down as easily as humans, so even if you’re comfortable in the car, your dog could be overheated and dehydrated. David suggests keeping a regular eye on your dog during a journey to make sure he’s coping. “If possible, use sun blinds and open windows to allow air to circulate in the car,” he adds.

It doesn’t take long for a dog to become seriously ill if left in a hot car, according to GEM. “Even leaving your dog in the car while you nip into a motorway service station for a sandwich and a loo visit can cause danger to your pet, as a dog can die of heatstroke in just 15 minutes,” David Williams says.

Don’t fight them

If your dog becomes too vocal in the car, David Williams says it’s important to do your best to ignore any barking while you’re driving. “Don’t shout at them to be quiet or calm down, as this just tells the dog he’s got your attention,” he says. “Instead, don’t let the dog out of the car until the barking or whining has finished, so you’re rewarding silence.”

Top tips for trouble-free journeys:

GEM has compiled a short checklist designed to ensure dogs stay safe and comfortable on car journeys:

  • Take lots of water on long journeys, and a supply of your dog’s usual food.
  • Keep an eye on how your dog is coping on a journey. Dogs can’t cool down as easily as humans, so a comfortable temperature for you may still be too hot for your dog.
  • If your dog hates car journeys, get him used to short trips first, then offer a treat or a long walk.
  • Park in the shade, but remember that even a short period in a hot car can make your dog seriously ill.
  • If you see a dog inside a car and are concerned about his welfare, try to alert the owner. If this is not possible, contact the police or the RSPCA via their 24-hour helpline (0300 1234 999).