For those of us who think of our dogs as family members, it’s tempting to take them with us everywhere we go. But before you load your dog into the car for a trip to the grocery, make sure you follow a few key steps to ensure the ride is safe for your dog.
- If it’s at all warm outside, never leave a dog in a parked car. Even at 70 degrees—which may feel cool to those of us in South Carolina—a car can heat up to dangerous levels for a dog in a short amount of time. This chart shows how quickly a warm day can become fatally hot inside a car. A normal summer day in Upstate South Carolina can cause a dog to overheat in as few as 5 minutes. And cracking the windows open does not provide enough cool air to keep your dog healthy. So if you are going somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs, then don’t take the dog with you at all.
- Keep dogs restrained in the car. We know this is an unpopular opinion, but you should not have a loose dog roaming around the car or sitting in your lap. In South Carolina, while there aren’t specific rules about restraining dogs in cars, you can be ticketed if an officer sees the dog as a distraction to driving. For maximum safety for you and your dog, put the dog in a crate, a seat restraint, a safety belt, or secured in the far back of the car.
- Don’t let dogs hang their heads out of the window. We know, your dog looks so happy—even smiling—with his head out the window, tongue wagging, drool dripping. But would you allow your children to do the same, even if they enjoyed it? A dog with his head out the window is subject to being hit by objects (pebbles, sticks, road debris) that can break skin or damage his nose or vulnerable eyes. Also, if you’re in an accident, your dog will be significantly more injured with his head out the window. Keep it safe and keep your dog entirely inside the car.
- Take breaks on long trips. If you’re taking your dog for a long ride, take breaks outside of the car at least every two hours. Allow your dog to stretch his legs and go to the restroom. Provide clean water at each break.
In general, only take dogs with you when the destination is a place the dog wants to be. So while driving to a dog park, hiking trail or family camping trip makes sense, taking the dog along for school pick-ups, grocery runs and shopping excursions is not ideal.
Of course, going to the vet for an annual check-up, sick visit or emergency is an exception to this rule. Please do drive your pet to Animal Clinic of Woodruff regularly to keep him healthy and happy. And whether you’re driving from Spartanburg, Woodruff, Greenville or elsewhere, please be car smart on your way in.
Need to talk car safety with your vet? Contact Animal Clinic of Woodruff today.