APCC Alert: Car Tips for Pet Passengers

August 8, 2016

Car Tips for Pet Passengers

When the weather’s nice, there’s often no greater joy than hitting the road with your four-legged friend. But just because many pets love riding in cars doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily safe for animals. In fact, there are a number of things that people should be aware of before bringing their pets into a vehicle, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure you’re armed with the latest information.

First and foremost, don’t leave pets in hot cars. Thousands of animals succumb to heatstroke and suffocation each year because they’ve been left in an unattended vehicle. On an 80 degree day, it can take less than 30 minutes for the temperature inside a car to reach a scorching 114 degrees. We encourage you to sign our pledge to protect pets from hot cars, and to take action if you see an animal in jeopardy.

In addition to the dangers of hot cars, pets are also prone to getting into things they shouldn’t while riding inside of a vehicle. The APCC has received numerous reports of pets ingesting the following items while in a car:

  • Gum (which often contains xylitol, a sweetener that can cause life-threatening low blood sugar and liver damage)
  •  Human and pet medication left in a purse or bag, or even just picked up from the veterinarian or the pharmacy
  • Cigarettes and chewing tobacco
  • Windshield wiper fluid

In one APCC case, a dog was sent to an emergency hospital after getting into arthritic medication that his pet-parent had picked up for their horse. The dog found the medication in the car, chewed into the container and ate the contents. The amount he ingested could have caused severe complications like ulcers, kidney injury, neurologic signs and electrolyte imbalances, and he required several days of hospitalization and aggressive treatment to recover.

In order to prevent such an incident with your own pet, you should take every step possible to create a safe travel environment in the car. This means investing in a crate or harness to keep your pet secure, and never allowing your pet to ride with his head outside the window. You can read our full list of Travel Safety Tips for more information.

Overall, car trips can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your pet. The APCC just wants to make sure that you and your four-legged passengers have the safest, smoothest ride possible. Happy travels!