It‘s getting to be that time again … summer! The temperatures are rising and many of us have the travel bug. Why not grab Fido and head off for a new adventure? Your adventure will probably be fun, but getting there might not be. It’s become commonplace for people to take their pets with them in the car on quick trips or vacations, but not everyone is aware of the dangers of having the family pet in the car. Traveling with your pet by car is convenient, but make sure you do your part to ensure that your pet is safe while they are in your vehicle.
Planning & Preparation
Planning and preparation are necessary when traveling with family pets. Consider whether your pet is comfortable when traveling in a car. A car-sick animal can make your trip miserable for everyone. Some dogs and cats do not withstand the rigors of travel well due to illness, injury, or temperament. If this is the case, consult your veterinarian before beginning your trip. Below are some things to remember when traveling with your pet by car, even locally.
Tips For Traveling by Car
If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, take it for a few short rides before a long trip so it will feel confident that a car outing does not only mean a trip to the veterinarian or an unpleasant destination.
Cats should always be confined to a cage or a cat carrier to allow them to feel secure and prevent them from crawling under your feet while you are driving.
Dogs riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it is equipped with an airbag, and should not be allowed to sit on the driver’s lap.
Harnesses, tethers, and other accessories to secure pets during car travel are available at most pet stores. Accustom your dog to a seatbelt harness by attaching a leash and taking your dog for short walks while wearing it. Offer your dog a treat and praise at the end of the walk to associate a positive experience with wearing the harness. According to Barkbuckleup.com, a 60lb. dog traveling in a car going 35mph can turn into a 2,700lb. projectile in an accident. They recommend looking for a harness that allows your pet to sit up or lie down, but will keep them restrained in an accident.
Vehicles with tie downs in the cargo area make it easy to safely secure a crate. Many wagons, SUVs, and minivans have this feature. Also available for these types of vehicles are pet barriers which allow the pet to move freely in the cargo area but keep them contained behind the rear seat.
Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt or other debris can enter the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection.
If taking a long trip in the car, your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.
Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become like an oven and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, and for long trips a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number, and any other relevant contact information.
Canines should never wear choke collars in a vehicle. Prongs can catch on seatbelts or upholstered seats or cause injury to the dog’s neck if you are forced to stop quickly.
Consider taking a travel kit. In addition to travel papers (if crossing state or international lines), food, bowl, leash, waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication, and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.