Summer Driving Tips: How to Keep Your Pets Safe in the Blistering Heat
Summer in the desert can be brutal on anyone, but it’s particularly rough on our furry friends. On days when the mercury hits 110 degrees and the humidity hits zero, it’s important to know how to travel safely with your pets in tow. Whether you’re a dog, cat, hamster, guinea pig, or ferret person, be sure to follow these expert vehicle tips to keep your pets safe and happy in the blistering heat.
Tip: Never Leave Your Pets in the Car
Why: Deadly Temperatures in the Car Are Dangerous
Never leave your pets inside the car while you run errands or chat with friends. Even if you’re just running in the grocery store “for a second” to grab a popsicle, bring your pet in with you or leave them at home where they can hang out in a safe, air-conditioned building.
As soon as you turn off the engine, the temperature inside the car begins to skyrocket. Within five minutes, it can hit 138 degrees on moderate days. On bad days, the temperature can easily top the 150-degree mark. Even for humans, excessive heat like that can be dangerous, but for a fur-laden pet who can’t open the door and escape it’s even worse; it’s a death trap.
Tip: Check Your AC
Why: If You’re Hot, So Is Your Furry Friend
Unfortunately, dogs and cats can’t take off their furry coats when summer rolls around. Arizona heat is bad enough when you’re wearing the obligatory shorts and sandals combination. Imagine doing your chores while wearing a heavy coat. That’s exactly what Max and Bella feel like. The bottom line: Be as considerate about your pet’s wellbeing as you are about your own comfort, and ensure they have plenty of air conditioning to keep them cool.
That means getting your AC unit inspected before the temperature starts rising. You don’t want to wait until you’re sweating to start searching for an “AC check near me.” Find the closest Cobblestone Auto Spa location now, and you’ll have nothing to worry about when the dog days of summer roll around.
Just in case, learn how to spot the signs of heat stroke in pets, which include:
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature
- Reddened gums
- Rapid heart rate
- Bloody vomit
- Pulmonary arrest
- Glazed eyes
- Excessive whining
Tip: Always Carry Plenty of Water
Why: If You’re Thirsty, So Is Your Pet
Dehydration can be deadly, for animals as well as humans. If your mouth is parched, you can be sure Fluffy is in desperate need of water. Wherever you go, bring some bottles of water along and stop alongside the road every now and then to let your pet get some much-needed refreshment. Even if you’re just tooling around town, give them plenty to drink before you leave (it’s better to stop and let them relieve themselves than to watch them suffer from heat stroke) and bring some extra bottles along.
Tip: Check That Car Battery
Why: Getting Stranded in the Heat Is a Recipe for Disaster
Excessive heat kills car batteries. For desert dwellers, relentless heat can cut your average battery life to two years, at most, and you may have little warning that it’s about to die. If the battery does cut out while you and your pet are out and about, both of you could be in danger. The solution? Check your car battery frequently and, if need be, let the mechanics at Cobblestone Auto Spa replace it.
Tip: Get a Full Preventive Maintenance Workup
Why: Getting Stranded in the Heat Is a Recipe for Disaster
Your car battery isn’t the only piece of equipment that can fail and leave you and your friend stranded on a long, lonely highway. The most common problem is insufficient coolant, which can cause your car to overheat. Getting stranded on the side of the road is bad enough in spring but, in summer, driving long distances without proper vehicle maintenance can be a recipe for disaster for you and for your pet. Fortunately, Cobblestone Auto Spa can check everything from your transmission to your coolant to make sure your summer driving goes on without a hitch.
Tip: Bring a Kit for Long Trips
Why: Your Pet Still Needs the Basics
If it will be a long trip, be sure to bring along all the essentials—food, water, water bowl, leash, medication, waste scoop, poop bags, and your best friend’s favorite toy or pillow.
Tip: Beware of Feeding Times
Why: Car Sickness Is Real
Be mindful of when you feed your pets. If you can, avoid traveling when they have a full stomach, particularly on a hot day. The best time to feed them is a few hours before departure, not right before a trip and, certainly, not in the car.
Tip: Get a Harness or a Crate
Why: Pet Safety Is No. 1
When traveling long distances with pets, it’s important to get them the right safety equipment: harnesses that attach to seatbelts for bigger dogs and crates for the rest. Rex may love poking his head out the window and letting the wind ruffle his ears (and we may love seeing it), but it’s much safer to keep him securely belted to the seat.
Tip: Keep Your Cell Phone Out of the Sun
Why: Don’t Bake Your Lifeline
The summer heat destroys smartphone batteries as quickly as it destroys car batteries. Leave your phone on the seat while you run errands, or even while you’re driving, and you might lose your only lifeline in an emergency.
Tip: Get a Sun Shade
Why: You May Have to Park in the Sun
Sun shades are great if you have to leave your car out in the summer sun and, although we’d all love to find shady spots and parking garages every time we go out, we can hardly count on it. A sun shade will keep the interior a little cooler (still not cool enough to leave your pet in the car) and prevent the surfaces from reaching unbearable temperatures. That will save your legs and your pet’s paws.
Tip: Cover Your Seats
Why: Leather and Metal Get Hot
Dogs don’t wear shoes, and they sweat through their paws. Hot asphalt, concrete, or even leather can burn such an exposed area. If you don’t have a sun shade and you can’t find a covered or shady spot, it’s important to have a backup plan. Consider bringing a thin blanket. It may sound counterintuitive to bring a blanket along on a summer’s day, but it could help if your seats and belt buckles get too hot for comfort.
The same goes for the outside of the car; it’s easy for your dog or cat to burn its paws if it touches the metal while trying to get in. Store the blanket out of the sun, and then drape it over the seats before letting your pet back in the car.
Tip: Carry Emergency Water Supplies
Why: In Case You Do Get Stranded on a Long, Lonely Highway
If your vehicle cuts out in the middle of nowhere, you might be spending a long time under the sweltering sun. You should always carry enough water to for hot summer day but, if you know you’ll be traveling with your four-legged friends, particularly if you’ll be traveling on highways or journeying to remote areas, then be sure to carry emergency supplies for both of you. It may be a lot to think about, but it’s far better to plan ahead now than it is to suffer the consequences of a mid-summer breakdown.
Tip: Stay Inside During the Hottest Hours
Why: Sometimes Avoidance Is the Best Strategy
If you have a choice, stay indoors on those days when the heat becomes dangerous, at least during the midday to afternoon hours when the sun is at its peak and the temperatures are at their worst. The longer you can keep Fido and Marshmallow in the cool comfort of a home or office, the better off they will be. Do your errands and exercise in the early mornings and night and leave the noonday sun to the lizards and cacti.
Tip: Steer Clear of the Bees
Why: The Heat Isn’t the Only Summer Danger
Every year, humans and pets in Arizona die from severe bee attacks. Watch and listen for signs of swarms. Be particularly careful if you park near a large bush or tree where bees like to congregate and where they can hide from plain sight.
Whether you and your furry family members are heading to the grocery store for some last-minute ingredients or across the state for a seasonal road trip, safety should always be your top priority. Want to ensure your car is ready to traverse the summer roads? Make an appointment at Arizona’s own Cobblestone Auto Spa to get all of your routine maintenance done in one place for one low price.