dog secured in car

How to Safely Drive with a Pet in Your Car

Make sure your pet is not able to ride with his head out the window. Dogs love to stick their heads outside the window when traveling in cars, but it’s not a good choice from a safety perspective. Traveling in this way makes it easy for dirt and debris to enter your pet’s eyes, ears and mouth. This can lead to painful injuries and can trigger uncomfortable infections that will make life very uncomfortable for your four-legged friend. An open window also increases the chance that the pet can be thrown from, or jump from, the vehicle.

Don’t leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. Leaving your pet in a parked vehicle puts the animal at risk for heat exhaustion (even in cooler weather), and this condition causes hundreds of pet fatalities every year. According to the AVMA, your vehicle’s cabin temperature can rise as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes with the windows up. In 60 minutes, the cabin’s temperature can become 40 degrees hotter than the temperature outside the vehicle. Even on a comfortable 70-degree day, the interior of a car can reach 110 degrees. Exposing a pet to these temperatures can result in serious illness or death. It’s important to note that cracking the windows has very little impact on cabin temperature in these circumstances. Cold weather can be just as harmful, and leaving your pet in an unheated car can cause your animal companion to suffer frostbite or hypothermia. If you’re making a trip to the store, it’s best to leave your pet at home.

An animal can be a loyal and adventurous travel companion. Taking care to foster safe travel practices with your pet will help ensure that your furry friend is alive and well for the long haul.

Warren Clarke is an advocate for consumers and pets alike. He also writes for CARFAX, an online resource for all things cars. Warren prides himself in sharing tips on car buying and car safety as it relates to pets.