Tips for Safe Travel with Your Pet
January 2 is National Pet Travel Safety Day! Here at Liberty Animal Hospital, we’ve only met a few dogs that don’t jump (literally) at the chance to go for a ride in the car. Cats seem to be a lot less excited, and some of them actively dislike it. We know you love your pets. And if your pets ride in the car with you (willingly or not), we know you’ll be interested in keeping them safe and as happy as they can be on those trips. Here’s how:
Keep Your Pets In by Keeping Your Windows Up
We know. Dogs LOVE to stick their heads out of windows. So. Many. Smells! But they can get hit in the eye or the face with road debris such as rocks and gravel tossed up by passing cars. Or a distracted driver (or motorcyclist or even bicyclist) in the next lane could weave too close to your car and sideswipe your pooch with a side mirror, handlebar, or elbow. And if your dog is overly reactive to the sight of other dogs, you might learn the hard way that a large dog actually *can* squeeze himself right out the window before you have a chance to react. The safest choice is to keep the windows up; if you must roll them down for fresh air, roll them down no more than 2 inches.
Restrain Your Pets with a Car Harness, Travel Crate, or Seatbelt Car Leash
Unsecured pets – even those that love to be in the car – can be a hazard to themselves as well as to the driver and passengers. Picture an excited dog bounding from the back seat to the front and back again. How could that NOT be distracting to the driver? It’s likely uncomfortable for front-seat passenger as well. The same is true for an uncomfortable pet that dislikes car trips and expresses its displeasure by being vocal, mobile, or both. Finally, if you have to slam on the brakes, your unsecured pet becomes a projectile. Your pet can be badly or fatally injured, and can cause injuries to you if you are in its path. Side note: the metal “separators” that mount inside your car to confine your pet to the back seat are not a solution. In a sudden stop, your pet will fly into that hard metal.) A proper car harness will hold your pet firmly and will attach to the seat belt. Typically less expensive than car harnesses are travel crates. The least expensive option is a special short leash with one end that clips to your pet’s collar and another that clips into the seatbelt latch.
Bring Food and Medicine for Your Pets; Schedule Stops for Pottying and Water
Just because you can drive for hours on end without a rest stop, meal, or refreshing beverage doesn’t mean your pet can. Always carry water and a water bowl, no matter how short your trip. For longer trips, be sure to have food and any needed medicine for your pet. Schedule stops every 2-3 hours so you and your pet have a chance to answer nature’s call, have a snack and some hydration, and stretch your legs.
Never, Never, Never Leave Your Pets Unattended in the Car
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Don’t do it. Temperatures inside of your car can climb to deadly levels faster than you can imagine. Even if your car is parked in the shade. Even if you leave the windows rolled down. Even if it’s “not that hot outside.” Even if “you’ll only be a minute.” Don’t.