With the Summer in full swing, it’s road trip season and more vacationers are choosing to include their pets in the adventure. While we have all heard how crucial it is for us to buckle up, we may not always realize the importance of car safety for our animal companions. Whether you’re going on a two-day drive or just a short trip to the grocery store, you should keep your pet’s safety in mind when bringing them in the car. Here are a few tips on keeping your pet safe when you take them for a drive.
- Pets belong in the back seat. Not the front seat and especially not in the driver’s lap. Pets can be very distracting to the driver, raising the risk of accidents. In the event of an accident, pets riding in the front seats can face severe injuries from airbags or hitting the windshield. Putting pets in the back seats is much safer for both the pet and the driver.
- Buckle up! Did you know that more car accident fatalities are due to not wearing a seat belt than by drunk driving? We wear seat belts to save our lives, and should do the same for our pets. Animals who aren’t belted in can easily be injured by quick turns, sudden stops, and of course car accidents. I found a seat belt harness that doubles as a walking harness at Target for only $10.
- Pets should keep their heads inside the vehicle while it is moving. A head hanging out the window is at risk of getting hit by tree branches and flying bits of debris such as dust, dirt, and bugs can get into their eyes.
- Car seats are available for smaller pets so they are still able to look out the window. Be sure the seat is properly restrained.
- Bring a bed or blanket or familiar toy that belongs to your pet to provide a sense of security and the notion that it has its own spot in your car.
- It is extremely dangerous for a pet to ride freely in the back of a pickup truck. An unsecured pet can fall out or jump out of the truck bed and get badly injured or wander off and get lost. If they must ride in the back, pets should be securely harnessed or kept in a crate that is fastened in place.
- Make sure your pet is wearing an identification tag should it somehow escape from your car and become lost.
- If they aren’t used to cars, train them by taking short rides and gradually increasing the length of the drive. Positively reinforce the experience with lots of praise and treats.
- There are solutions to driving with anxious riders and carsick pets. Try to avoid feeding them for a few hours before the drive and be sure to provide plenty of water. Make sure your vehicle is well ventilated and try to keep trips short until the pet is more accustomed. You can also talk to your veterinarian about medications.
- When going on a longer drive, be sure to make frequent stops for bathroom breaks and water.
A recent poll by the Associated Press and PetSide revealed that half of American pet owners considered their pet as a member of the family. You should treat them that way by protecting their lives and taking the correct safety precautions in the car. Of course, never leave a pet in a parked car on a warm day as your pet can quickly overheat and cause severe illness or even death. Be safe, and happy driving!