Doing errands around town is always more fun when your four-legged friend is there to keep you company. "Who wants to go for a ride in the car?" is a question that can get many tails wagging in dog-loving homes across the U.S. When taking your pet on either a long road trip or just a run to the local dog park, it is important to remember that car travel is just as dangerous for our pets as it is for you, and it is necessary precautions to protect them.
General car safety
Make sure your car is in top shape. All cars require scheduled maintenance, and you should make appointments with your local auto repair shop regularly. Even a simple car tune up can be enough to make the difference in how safe your car is to travel.This will help protect both your health and well-being, as well as your furry companion's.
Keep your pet secure
It is a smart idea to transport your pet in a carrier or crate. The crate should be large enough so animals can stand up, lay down and relax to help reduce their stress level. Cats and smaller dogs travel best this way. For dogs that are specifically crate trained, their crate should be a place of comfort and safety.
Many dog owners allow their canine friend to sit next to them. While this is a fun way to travel, it can be very dangerous in the event of an accident. AAA reported that "that an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of force."
There are special car harnesses that you can buy to help protect your dog. They work similar to a seatbelt. It should also be kept in mind that airbags are just as dangerous to a pet as they would be to a small child, so whenever possible, have your pet travel in the backseat. This will also help reduce distracted driving. Having your pet in the front seat can take the driver's attention off the road. Your dog may want to sit in your lap, but that is not a safe place for him or you.
When traveling with an animal, it is a smart idea to pack supplies just for them. A favorite toy for your cat or a bone to chew for your dog can give them something to do during travel. In addition, you should make sure to bring snacks and water. It is very important to keep your pets hydrated. If your pet is inside of their crate, make sure they are equipped with their favorite blanket or pillow for comfort. For a dog, you will want to bring some plastic bags. Remember that dogs will need to stop often to go to the bathroom, and you are in charge of picking up after your pet.
If going for a longer road trip, remember to pack any medication that your pet may need. The ASPCA suggests bringing vaccination records, especially proof of a rabies vaccine, when traveling over state lines.
Do not leave your pet in a hot car
Just as you would never leave a child alone in the car, do not leave your pet. On a hot day, the temperature within a parked car can quickly rise above 100 degrees, and animals are just as vulnerable to heat stroke as people are. Similarly, the temperature in a car can drop below freezing on a cold day, which is also dangerous for your pet.