As cherished members of the family, our pets are traveling with us more than ever. From quick jaunts around town to longer road trips, our dogs and cats love being part of the fun.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring that your dog or cat is safely secured while in the car. Just as you wouldn’t let your child ride without being buckled up, keeping your pet safe is just as important.
Making the case for safety
While it can feel like a hassle, ensuring that your pets are safe while traveling pays big dividends. First, it cuts down on distracted driving; since you don’t have to worry about Fido climbing into the front seat or what he is doing in the backseat, you can keep your focus where it needs to be – on the road.
If the unthinkable happens and you get in an accident or have to make a hard brake, a secured pet won’t become a projectile where he could be injured or hurt others. If your pet isn’t secured, he could go through the windshield – something no pet owner wants to think about.
Securing also keeps your pet from running away in case of an accident. We’ve all heard about pets running away from the scene of an accident; avoid this nightmare situation by keeping your pet safely anchored.
Pets can’t buckle themselves in – it is up to us to keep them safe and sound. They may not like wearing a harness or being in a crate, but it is up to us as pet owners to do the right thing.
Safe & secure
Securing your dog or cat in your vehicle is the key to a safe trip. There are four main options for keeping your pet from roaming around your vehicle:
Safety harness – A car harness uses your vehicle’s seatbelt system to keep your pet safely in place. Look for a harness that has been crash tested.
Barrier – A car barrier is a great way for keeping your pet contained in the rear of the vehicle. It works well in SUVs, vans and wagons.
Crate – Keeping your cat or dog in a crate is an ideal way to restrain them. Be sure to secure the crate so it doesn’t slide around the vehicle. Also, look for a crate that has been crash tested.
Booster seat – For smaller dogs, a booster seat allows them to sit a bit higher and see out the window. Be sure to use an additional safety harness to keep your pet anchored in place.
Whatever option you select, be sure to spend time acclimating your pet to your vehicle and the safety system he will be using before you hit the road.
Tips for happy travels
Keep the following in mind for happy travels for both two-legged and four-legged passengers:
- Have your pet travel on an empty stomach to avoid car sickness.
- Make sure your dog or cat gets plenty of air. If he is in a crate, ensure that there is proper airflow.
- Don’t let your dog ride in the bed of a truck unless they are in a crate that is strapped down. This is extremely dangerous, as it can lead to death or severe injuries.
- Never leave your pet alone in your vehicle on hot summer days or in freezing temperatures. It takes just a matter of minutes for the temperature in your vehicle to climb to dangerous levels. And animals can freeze to death when left in a cold vehicle.
- Don’t let your pet ride in your lap. Not only can it lead to distracted driving, it can be deadly for your dog if the airbag goes off.
- While dogs love it, don’t let your dog hang his head out an open window. It can cause eye injuries and in the case of an accident, he could get ejected from the vehicle.
- Bring plenty of water to keep your pet hydrated.
- On longer trips, stop often to let your dog stretch his legs and go to the bathroom.
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