Your Pet and Car Temperature
It is so handy to have a car and be able to travel from place to place without worrying about catching public transport. When a pet become involved in the journey we have to consider the weather and the temperature in the car. Get it wrong and the family pet will suffer.
Heat Can KillThere’s no getting away from it heat can kill and in the environment of a vehicle a pet is trapped and cannot escape to a cooler place. Plan ahead so that you are as prepared as possible before you even start your journey.
Air ConditioningFortunately most modern cars have air conditioning which is a boon for the person travelling with a pet. When setting this feature ensure that your pet is getting the benefit of it in the part of the car in which it is travelling. You may feel cool and comfortable at the front of the vehicle but what is it like at the rear where your pet may be sitting in his cage? Is the sun shining into the back or side of the window? Perhaps test your car by going on a short journey and asking someone to sit in the back of the car to experience how comfortable you pet is in the heat or indeed in colder weather.
Open WindowsLetting the wind blow through your car window can freshen up the interior and keep the driver wide eyed and awake on long journeys. What is this gush of wind doing to your pet in the back of the vehicle? Is he cold, frightened by the sudden road noise? Always be aware of the pet when he is in the car.
ColdIt would take very cold weather to actually kill a pet when travelling in your car but you should be prepared for the eventuality of a sudden snow storm or thunderstorms during your journey. Have a towel to dry off your pet and carry a blanket that he can snuggle down in to keep warm and comfortable. If you are stranded in your car during a snow storm snuggle up with your pet and share body heat to keep warm. The driver would benefit from keeping a shovel and wellington boots in the car during cold weather along with a hot drink in a flask. There are small kettles that can plug into the car cigarette lighter that are ideal for the colder weather. Staying dry is probably better for your pet during cold snaps so resist letting him run in the snow or driving rain during stops offs on your journey.
WaterAlthough a pet should have access to water during the journey do not let him drink copiously during very hot weather and whilst in the confines of the car. Frequent stops and a rest in the shade while keep his body temperature at a normal level along with small amounts of water.
TravellingDuring very hot weather plan to leave in the early hours of the morning – perhaps even travel overnight to avoid the heat of the day.
DampIf a pet should overheat do not let him drink too much water as certain pets, particularly large dogs can have bloated stomachs which lead to gastric torsion and they will die without immediate veterinary treatment. You have to bring your pets core temperature down steadily – not quickly as this can put them in shock - by soaking a towel in water and placing it on his back and neck it will help. Change this often to keep the pet cool. This procedure can be used if the pet is not distressed but is in a hot place. If your pet’s gums are pale he is already in shock and a vet should be called. Do not use iced water as the shock of the cold can be dangerous.
There are products that can be purchased from pet stores and car accessory shops than can make a pet more comfortable whilst in the car. Fans run off small solar panels clipped to the car window will give air movement inside the car on the hottest of days. Silver backed blankets placed over the cage will reflect heat away from the pet but never cover the cage during a hot spell as the dog will still get distressed. People who travel to dog shows are used to the diverse weather conditions and during hot spells you will see many cars, while parked, have these silver blankets over the front windows (and sometimes the back) that will keep the car cool enough go get into after it has been left for the day. If your car is hot when you return to it do not be tempted to get in and drive off. The unbearable heat will be even worse for a small animal. Instead turn on the engine and let your air conditioning bring down the cars temperature before the pet is allowed into the car. If you don’t have air conditioning, open the windows of the car and put on the fans to blow cooler air through the car.