Don’t put your pet at risk

Blog post posted on 19/07/22 |

Temperatures across the UK have soared to over 30 degrees this week, and more people are heading out on the roads to enjoy it. We may consider ourselves to be a nation of dog lovers, but it seems we’re still putting our four-legged friends at risk when it comes to travelling in warmer weather.

Many people think it's ok to leave their dog in the car if they're parked in the shade or the windows are open. But a car can become as hot as an oven, even when the weather doesn't feel that warm. When it's 22 degrees outside, the car could reach an unbearable 47 degrees within an hour. It's very dangerous and will cause your dog serious harm. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving & Riding Standards, offers his top tips to keeping our furry friends safe in the hot weather.

Plan your route

More people are choosing to holiday in the UK to avoid the airport chaos that we’re currently experiencing, so it’s important to plan your route to allow for extra breaks. If you intend to be in the car for longer periods of time, your dog will appreciate being able to stretch their legs, enjoy a drink and some fresh air. Plus avoid travelling in peak times to minimise the chance of traffic – you’ll save time and fuel. 

Never leave your dog in the car

When travelling with your dog, don’t forget that it can only take a few minutes for them to become very distressed and start suffering from heatstroke in hot conditions. Don’t leave your dog in a stationary vehicle in the heat, even with a window open and the car in the shade, as it’ll be become extremely hot and potentially deadly for them.

Follow the rules

The Highway Code states that dogs must be suitably restrained when travelling in a car so they cannot distract the driver or cause injury to either themselves or the motorist. And while disobeying the Highway Code doesn't carry a direct penalty, drivers could be pulled over by police and fined up to £1,000 for driving without proper control if their pet distracts them. We would always recommend buying a dog seat belt or car harness, this way it guarantees your companion is secure on the go.

Know the signs of heatstroke in dogs

Did you know 1 in 7 dogs treated by vets for heatstroke die? According to The Kennel Club any dog can develop heatstroke, but some dogs, such as dogs that are large, energetic, overweight, have a thick coat or flat-faced, are more at risk than others.

Heatstroke can occur at any time of the year, but often happens when people walk their dogs on hot summer days. It’s important that owners know the signs of heatstroke (heavy panting, tiredness and dribbling) and should urgently contact their vet if they think their dog is affected. To give a dog with heatstroke the best chance of survival they need to be cooled down immediately and taken to a vet as soon as possible.

Richard Gladman said: “Long journeys can be stressful for all of us so when you’re travelling in the car with your dog, it’s important that they are comfortable in their environment to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply familiarising your pet with your car before setting off on a long journey will help them get used to travelling. Make sure your dog is looked after and if the conditions are too extreme, consider altering your journey plans. If you haven’t got the option to travel during the cooler part of the day, it’s worth considering extending your breaks. When you are packing your snacks remember the water, a bowl and treats for your four-legged friend – and make sure they are easily accessible. A family break needs to cater properly for all the family, if you are transporting other pets make sure you keep them safe, secure and stress free.”

To find out more about keeping your dog safe this summer, visit RSPCA, and to read more driving and riding tips, please visit