Car Temperature and Pet Safety While Driving

Written by Bonnie Gringer

For some, traveling with a pet is very hard and causes stress for both the pet owner and the pet. It’s important to make it to your destination, but equally important to get there safely. Proper safety when traveling with a pet can help to prevent accident or injury to the pet, those in the vehicle, and others on the road. Some ideas to keep your pet secure while driving include crating them in a well ventilated pet carrier or using a harness. It’s also important to never leave your pet alone in a vehicle, especially on hot or cold days. Always make sure to microchip your pet, ensuring that they are able to identified and returned, should they get lost. For longer car rides, be sure to pack lots of water, food, toys, and any medications needed to keep your pet healthy and happy.

Too Hot to Handle

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion while left in vehicles for too long. Many people think leaving a pet unattended, if only for a few minutes, is safe as long as the windows are cracked. It is this type of uninformed and negligent pet ownership that leads to the death of our four-legged friends.

On warm days, the temperature inside a parked car may increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. After 60 minutes the temperature in the car could be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. If you think cracking a window will help, studies have proven this has very little effect on the temperature inside the vehicle. Your pet is at risk of serious illness or even death if left in a vehicle on a warm day. Even in the shade or window’s down, animals sweat like humans. Panting is how they reduce their body temperature. While panting is a natural reaction to the hot air, it can lead to heat stroke and cause coma, organ dysfunction, and brain damage.

Many people ask what should be done if a pet is spotted in a car on a warm day. Well here are some answers:

  • Gather information on the car, even take a picture of the license plate number.
  • Notify other people nearby or ask the buildings around you to page the owner.
  • Call for help. If animal control cannot come immediately, call 911.

Pets On the Loose

Deciding if you should crate your pet or use a harness restraint is a hard decision; there are many benefits for both. A harness restraint is an excellent safety option, especially for large breeds of dogs. Most harnesses are exceptionally comfortable and will connect directly to your existing seat belt.

A crate may be a great idea for any size animal. A soft crate is the most popular because they are typically lightweight and easily transported. Another good option is the plastic crate; durable and easy to clean. No matter what the size is of the pet, make sure they have enough room to stand up, sit down, and turn around.

It is very important to have your animal secure on your car ride: not only for the pet’s safety, but a loose animal could distract your attention to the road. In recent statistics, there has been more than 421,000 distracted driving accidents. A percentage of these accidents involve individuals who are driving with pets that are not properly secure in vehicles.