Best tips to travel by car with your dog in hot weather

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As the weather gets milder and we leave the winter cold months behind us, we all want to enjoy the longer days by having family trips or holidays.  And of course whenever possible and allowed, we often like to take our dog with us – (s)he is part of the family after all!  But how to travel with your dog in the car ensuring hot weather does not affect his or her well being?  Let me introduce you to my best tips to travel by car with your dog in hot weather!


Most dogs love to go by car

You’ll all agree with me: our dogs do love to go with us, they enjoy spending time with their family, and especially if that entails a day out.  Dogs are very perceptive, and like children they understand when we start making preparations for a day trip, which undoubtedly will promise adventurous walks, food and fun.

Most dogs love to go by car with their family.  And I say ‘most’, as some dogs may experience travel sickness.  In this case there are remedies on the market, which will relax your hound ahead of the trip, or prevent them from being affected by the travelling motion itself.

Sometimes it may be purely the case of making your dog feel reassured, maybe by letting him or her have their favourite toy in the crate with them, so that playing with the toy will distract them and tire them, hence relax them for the rest of the journey.  I shall tackle the issue of travel sickness in one of Indy’s reviews at a later stage.

Nevertheless, even those dogs who normally enjoy and look forward to a car trip, travelling by car in hot weather can become traumatic.


Dogs in hot weather

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how I believe that Border Terriers are a breed that doesn’t cope with hot weather at all.  I have in the meantime spoken to quite a few dog owners of different dog breeds, particularly during last summer, when we would meet up during our walks and we realised that each other’s dogs were just struggling to keep up even on short walks.

Dogs are more sensitive than humans to hot temperatures.  And whilst they cherish curling by a source of heat in the winter months, during the summer they become almost lethargic and listless.  I know for a fact that my Indy changes his personality completely, and it can be quite scary – I must admit – to see the transformation he undergoes at the least increase in temperature.

In an ideal world, I believe all breeds of dogs would best function during mid-season months – not too cold, not too hot.  But, as we cannot avoid the more extreme temperatures, we want to ensure that they can still be part of our family life without being affected by an unwanted weather.  And that may mean having to take some precautionary measures to make sure our dogs are well whilst travelling by car with us.


#1.  Never take your dog by car when too hot

This is possibly the most logical suggestion I can make.  In fact you do not need me to remind you!!

Thresholds may vary depending on whether you have air con in your car or not, but it is generally regarded that when summer temperatures hit in the region of the 70F (or 20C), you should either put your air con on full blast, or should avoid driving your dog by car altogether.  This is because whenever the weather reaches such temperatures, the inside of your car can in turn reach up to approximately 100F (or 37C).  In other words, your car will turn into an oven as far as your dog is concerned!!!


#2.  Travel early morning or late evening

Travelling in the early hours of the morning or late in the evening is recommendable, as these are the fresher times of the day.  It will be best for your hound, but also for you, and especially on long journeys, as you are bound to avoid traffic (!!).  And it will not put your driving skills to the test any more than any other time of the day, as days are longer and you will still be able to benefit of the natural day light.

Again, depending on whether your vehicle benefits from air con, you may be flexible.  But, remember that your dog will always feel warmer than you, whether (s)he is long or short coated.


#3.  Air con: in this time and age, a must 

And yes, I have been mentioning the air con feature.  My current car was manufactured in 2005, and when I purchased it two years later as second hand, the dealer offered to install the air con facility in it.  By then we had already adopted Indy, yet I could not see the point of spending additional money for a feature which I would probably not need – at the end of day, we are in UK, when it’s never boiling hot!

I couldn’t be more wrong!!!  Because yes, you can count the days of scorching hot weather on the fingers of one hand in UK, but I completely disregarded that dogs feel warmer than us, and cars get warmer inside as at the end of the day they are tin boxes.

No matter where you are, even in colder climate countries, if summer temperatures reach up to 20C or above, please do invest in an air con.  It will benefit you and your family as much as your dog.


#4.  Take breaks and provide fresh drink and treats

When travelling with a dog, you would ensure you take toilet breaks regularly anyway.  In warmer weather, make a point of doing so even more.  This way your dog can get out of the ‘warmer tin box’, stretch his or her legs and enjoy a brief walk in the fresher air – particularly if again in the early hours of the morning or later in the evening.  And, most importantly, (s)he can have a refreshing drink of water.

On the subject of drinking fresh water, it is recommendable that you travel with a cooling bag full of treats not only for your children, but for your dog too.  Our Indy loves apples and carrots, and keeping bites of them in a cooling bag and feeding them to your dog will make a welcome refreshing and healthy treat.

And you can keep chewing toys in a cooling bag (wrapped up in foil or in a serviette naturally), to give to your dog when in their travel cot, so they can keep entertained and they can refresh mouth and paws.


#5.  De-clutter their travel cot

In winter, Indy likes to be wrapped up in fleece and blankets – anything that will make his bed nice and cosy.  And same will go for his travel carrier (or travel cot, as I call it in my review).

Maybe one more measure you can take when travelling by car in hot weather, is to remove all the old blankets and throws, hence trying to make your dog’s crate cooler.  You may still want to keep a padding cushion at the bottom of the carrier, so that your dog still finds it comfortable to sit or snooze there during your travels.  But so long as you remove anything else that may make him or her too hot.

Smallwise Portable Folding Travel Carrier
Best Dog Car Carrier for any size dog

 And if you carrier has meshed windows, like Indy’s travel cot, make sure you do not cover them.  Those windows in travel carriers for pets not only enable your dog to see the outside world, but they ensure that the carrier has circulation of fresh air within the cubicle.


Travel happy with your hound

Spring brings a renewed energy in all of us – and in our dogs too.  We all want to spend more time outdoor, and will like to visit markets or places of heritage at the weekend, or pursue outdoor activities by the sea or on hills and mountains.  A lot of these excursions will involve travelling by car, and surely you want to take your dog with you as much as you possibly can, so that your dog not only will not feel excluded, but (s)he can also socialise more.

Do not let the hot weather spoil the fun for you and for your hound.  Provided you act sensibly, you can have wonderful fun times with your dog.  And don’t forget:




Do you take your dog by car a lot in the warmer weather?  And which measures do you take to make his or her journey more enjoyable?  Leave your comment below to share your experience, or if you have more suggestions!



  1. // Reply

    Very good tips! Now that the weather is getting warmer people need to be very mindful of traveling with their dogs. I thought your tip of providing cooling treats and toys was very good. I will share your post with my pet loving friends!

    1. // Reply

      Please do Linda! I hope they will find my ideas of help in making their hounds happier during their travels 🙂

  2. // Reply

    Hi Giulia,

    I have a Toy Poodle, and I usually take her with me on short trips usually early in the morning to, as you say, avoid the hot weather. I live in Puerto Rico and warm weather is what we have all year long, so I make sure that Sally isn’t exposed to our type of weather for long. Air conditioning is a must, I never leave her without her personal ventilation.

    Do you take long trips with your dog? I mostly travel short distances with mine.



    1. // Reply

      The longest we have gone by car with Indy has been a couple of hours when he was younger. We regret not having longer trips, but it never happened because Indy restricted us in going further afield, but rather as we have been unable to take holidays in the last few years for different other reasons. Now zthat Indy is a little older, we do not want to venture too away from home, in case he needs medical help. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, as he loves every time we put him in his travel cot: he knows zthat means adventure trip!

    1. // Reply

      Thanks Baukje, I hope you will pass it on for me to whoever you know that has dogs in their household 🙂

  3. // Reply

    Hi Giulia,

    A very interesting read by all accounts. When it gets hot, it really gets hot, and animals in cars are prone to dangers, probably more than we are since they can’t talk or complain.
    I remember when our Labrador had to visit the vet on a daily basis, getting him into the car was not easy, but one of us stayed close to him to make him fee safe during the trip.
    We always took a small bag of treats and a bottle of water, even though the distance covered wasn’t that long, but his age was taking its toll.
    Great site, keep it up…

    1. // Reply

      I know, James, it’s painful to see them suffer from heat. And you know as it’s not the usual panting, but the lethargic lack of energy. I found with our Indy, he is getting more sensitive to hot weather too, just like your Lab.
      I am glad you enjoyed my website; keep coming back 🙂

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