Air Conditioning

Dogmovers use a variety of Air Conditioned Vans and Buses plus specialised custom built floats in addition to multiple service offerings ranging from Express Interstate to fully customised door to door Priority Services to cater to a wide range of Pet Transport demands.

About our Fleet

While many of our services are provided entirely in Air Conditioned vehicles we do not guarantee this. There are a number of reasons for this, first, because we plan our services on the basis that the AC may fail and our vehicles need to be able to continue to operate if that occurs. Secondly AC does have some drawbacks and can be dangerous for some pets if used incorrectly. We use it sparingly and carefully, it is not always on. On top of this we are moving a wide range of pets at any given time and AC is not needed or appropriate for all animals equally so use of the AC is at the discretion of the driver who will take into account the current conditions and the nature of the animals he is caring for at any given time.

Some of our Floats are not Air Conditioned but are insulated and by design have superior air flow to the vehicles towing them. These are typically used on routes with more stable temperatures or in combination with AC vehicles where the driver will have a choice of where pets may be placed as is appropriate to their needs. Again I must stress that the needs of different types of dogs, such as, Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs are very different to the needs of others such as Working & Hunting dogs which may never have been in Air Conditioning at all.

We do invest greatly in the AC and ventilation systems in our vehicles and Floats. This includes dual AC systems on most Vehicles and increasingly as technology and equipment has improved newer or additional systems that run off Lithium Batteries which can continue to operate in the event a vehicle breaks down.

When using AC we endeavour to keep the temperature at a safe moderate temperature at all times and monitor the humidity as well. We also specifically keep spare vehicles in reserve to use in the event of breakdowns.

It is important to note that whilst there is now a wide range of Road based Pet Transport businesses operating throughout Australia this has not always been the case. Dogmovers is one of the longest serving Pet Transporters and one of only two that have been in continuous operation for in excess of 10 years. Dogmovers were the first to include Air Conditioned vans in addition to traditional dog floats, the first to use larger passenger style vans and buses with dual Air Conditioning systems and the first to build larger custom designed interstate transport floats with improved insulation and ventilation to operate safely in all conditions as a core feature of their design. Today we are at the forefront of technological advances in Battery and charging technologies to achieve fully independent AC systems that make our vans as safe and versatile, if not better than floats.

About the Pros & Cons of Air Conditioning for Pets.

As a Pet Transporter our duty of care is to the health and safety of the animals in our care rather than to the desires of their owners. Mostly this is common sense stuff, but sometimes the two are not aligned. An example would be a situation where our driver may feel an animal is potentially unwell and should be checked by a vet but the client feels it will be fine and does not want to incur the additional costs. While that is an extreme example, this can be the case when it comes to Air Conditioning as well.

It is important to note that our policies on the use of Air Conditioning in our vehicles and floats is informed by our many years of experience and a need to have a balanced procedure in place for all pets. It is not informed by a growing demand, partly driven on social media by other inexperienced transporters or an ill-informed public, that all animals should be transported in Air Conditioning at all times.

Where we are using Air Conditioning in our vehicles and floats, it is used at a moderate temperature (typically around 26-27 degrees) for only the portion of a day that it may be required and that wherever possible and appropriate, fresh airflow is prioritised over Air Conditioning. We monitor twice a week the forecast regional temperatures and during Heatwaves or where temps exceed our pre-set limits we will provide additional warning or advice to the owners of some breeds and postpone the transport of others irrespective of whether the scheduled trip will be Air Conditioned or not.

Keep in mind that dogs & cats have a body temperature that is usually around 2 degrees warmer than our own, so their comfort level differs and they are typically less bothered by the slight changes that we may notice more easily. Additionally their cooling systems differ from ours, they do not sweat but rely more on cooling evaporation by panting (dogs & cats) and grooming (cats). Because of this, healthy Pets have wonderful internal mechanisms that keep their body at the correct temperature at all times, regardless of the air temperature. However while they are more tolerant of variations in temperature, they do no regulate their temperature as quickly as we do and are more susceptible to sudden unnatural temperature changes.

Yes, pets can definitely overheat, but typically even on very warm days, most domestic animals have no issue with the temperature, even when we find it uncomfortable, provided they are not in direct sunlight, have appropriate ventilation and have water available. There are exceptions. Brachycephalic animals, Greyhounds, very old pets or animals with specific conditions will be more greatly affected, or have specific conditions that are exacerbated by heat. But ironically, moving these animals into, or out of Air Conditioning can itself create or worsen potentially life threatening issues. Sudden large changes in temperature can be experienced by animals being removed from an air conditioned cage into a hot or humid environment, either for a toilet stop or at the end of a journey. This can be very dangerous and is even worse if the Air Conditioned temperature is too low.

Dramatic temperature changes between being outside and into the air conditioning can also lead to respiratory illness and is well documented in many livestock species that dramatic temperature changes (both heating and cooling) in a short period of time can lead to pneumonia.

Circulating the air from an Air Conditioner rather than providing increased fresh airflow can also be a factor in an increased risk of the spread of communicable diseases between animals.

Because Air Conditioning has a de-humidifying affect with an increased risk of dehydration. Animals may require more water irrespective of the cooler temperature.

It is our experience that while moderate air conditioning may be beneficial in keeping pets comfortable on short journeys the risks associated with using AC continuously on longer trips can outweigh the benefits for many animals and must be used judiciously.

In instances where it is considered essential that a specific animal must be kept in AC it is often due to the specific condition of that animal rather than the circumstances of travel. In these cases we should discuss more specific and customised transport requirements.

Another significant factor is that to efficiently run AC in floats it is necessary to severely limit the existing airflow. This is less of an issue in van because they already have very limited airflow which is why they have traditionally been less suitable for long distance Animal Transport than well constructed floats. In either case, on long trips there are many things that could cause a breakdown that would stop the AC working leading to a potential catastrophic situation for all animals onboard if the vehicle or float has been optimised for AC rather than Airflow.

By way of example, as at the time of writing (May 2022) we have experienced one single incidence of heat related stress in dogs throughout the past summer. In this case the 3 dogs involved were being transported in Air Conditioning that had been set below our recommended threshold at 23 degrees. On arrival at the destination the temperature was in the mid 30’s but the humidity was very high. Both our driver and the 3 dogs were affected within minutes by the sudden change in temperature and humidity once the van was opened for delivery. While the dogs were able to be treated at the scene and did not require veterinary care, these were not at risk breeds and it was a reminder of the importance of the risks of overuse of AC. I am not aware of any instances of heat stress over the same period due to a lack of Air Conditioning.

Additionally I am also aware of one heat related death of a Brachycephalic dog with another Transporter over the same period. Again the dog was being transported in an Air Conditioned float, but it is my understanding that the transporter had the AC set at 16 degrees and the dog passed away following a walk break on a warm day likely due to the high temperature variation between the two environments.

Special needs

Where special needs exist, we do have other levels of service that cater to animals with breed specific or other health issues and on these services our staff will have a very limited number of animals to deal with and are able to ensure that appropriate Air Conditioning is available for each animal in these instances.

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If your pet is a Brachycephalic breed, it is important to note that while heat is an exacerbating factor in Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome, it is not the cause. Any form of stress or over excitement may cause issues in an affected animal. As Brachycephalic animals cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as other animals and much less efficiently than us, any sudden change in temperature can cause an issue. For instance moving a pet to or from an Air Conditioned environment. 

Specifically, affected Brachycephalic breed animals being transported in Air Conditioning may be unable to adequately regulate/adjust their body temperature when taken out for walks and sudden changes in temperature may quickly cause an episode of heat stress resulting in death. The higher the temperature difference the greater the risk. Where we do use Air Conditioning in our vehicles or on our Premium services where Air Conditioning is guaranteed, we are careful to ensure that the temperatures are not kept too low.