Protecting your pet in the car

Jul 19, 2012 1 minute read

It’s fun to take Fido with you on car trips but if you don’t prepare for your furry companion ahead of time, you may be headed for trouble.

Before you leave

  • Pack a water bottle and bowl for your pet.
  • Plan to make frequent stops to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise.
  • If you bring a cat, make sure you transport it in a carrier.

On the road

  • Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver’s lap or near the driver’s feet.
  • Small pets should be confined in carriers or in travel-safe dog beds. Larger pets should be appropriately restrained with harnesses attached to the car’s seat belts.
  • Do not allow your pet to ride with its head outside the window; dirt and other debris can get into its eyes and cause damage or infections.
  • Do not let your pet ride around in the back of a truck. If your pet must ride in the truck bed, it should be confined in a protective kennel that is secured to the truck.

Summertime tips

  • If a pet is left in a vehicle on a warm day, the temperature inside can reach up to 250 C degrees—hot enough to cook a turkey! 
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended or, at a minimum, make sure your window is partially open for ventilation.
  • If you see a pet that has been left in a hot area, you should watch for signs of heat exhaustion. Symptoms may include: a dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness, or lack of coordination. If you think your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion, move it to the shade or an air-conditioned area. If the symptoms are severe, take the animal to a vet immediately. 

What should you do if you see an animal trapped in a car on a hot day?

If possible, try to find the vehicle owner as they may not be aware their pet is in distress. Call 911 to reach emergency services or call your local SPCA. In Alberta, the number is: 1-800-455-9003, and the Ontario number is: 1-888-668-7722.

Bystanders and security guards do not have the authority to break into a car. The police, fire department and emergency medical services are the only people with authority to break into a car in an emergency.

For more information, visit the Alberta SPCA or the Ontario SPCA.