How to avoid a fine, points on your licence or jail when your dog is in the car in hot weather
A panting dog, its head hanging from a car window, teeth bared and ears billowing in the wind is the stuff of internet memes or video clips we've all seen.
But putting your pooch in the car could risk you a hefty fine or points on your licence if it is not done correctly. With the weather warming up again considerably this weekend, here's some expert tips for driving with your dog in the heat:
Secure your dog
Rule 57 of the Highway Code dictates that dogs - or other animals - are suitably restrained when in a vehicle. Some insurers and policies also require pets to be secured if travelling and not doing so could risk invalidating your insurance if you were to be involved in an accident.
When it is hot it can be tempting to let your pooch move around the car to get closer to a window or sit on your lap in the front nearer a fan and a blast of cooler air, but driving with an unrestrained animal who risks distracting you, also risks you being slapped with three to nine penalty points or a £200 fine for driving without proper care and attention.
Switch off airbags
Travel carriers or crates will keep your dog secure in one area of the car or a harness that attaches to the seat belt of the car will prevent your pet roaming freely.
If you've chosen to secure your dog in the front of the car, perhaps in order to put them closer to fans or air conditioning vents on a hot day, just as with installing children's rear-facing car seats in the front of a car, drivers are advised to disable the front passenger air bag for safety reasons.
Keep windows clear
Many dog owners know that after a particularly energetic outing your dog's panting can sometimes lead to the windows become steamed up. While a large dog sitting in the wrong place, or being allowed to hang out of the window, can also risk obscuring your vision.
Rule 229 of the Highway Code requires drivers to be able to see out of all windows in the vehicle and a failure to comply with this rule could lead to a fine of up to £200 or points on your license for careless driving.
Set up sunshades
While not allowing your pet to lean completely out of the window, if you do think they're too warm, you can bring down the windows providing the gap won't allow them to poke their entire head out.
Sun shades, most often bought for rear windows to keep the sun off baby and toddler passengers, can also be successful in keeping any direct sunlight off your dog during a car journey.
Never leave your pet alone in the car
The RSPCA is discouraging dog owners from taking their pets out during the extremely hot weather. But if travelling with your dog, never leave it alone in a warm vehicle as they can become dehydrated very quickly, leading to heat stroke. An open window or parking in the shade is not enough and police do have the powers to break into cars to rescue animals they think are at risk.
A PDSA spokesman explained the dangers. He said: "When it’s 22°C outside, within an hour the temperature in a car can reach an unbearable and deadly 47°C. If your dog’s internal body temperature exceeds 41°C, it can be fatal."
Leaving your pet inside a hot vehicle can also lead to a criminal record and fines of up to £20,000 under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Motorists who decide to leave pets in cars who then become unwell can also face jail sentences or a ban on keeping animals for a number of years.