Bark & Ride: How to Road Trip Safely with a Pet in the Car
You understand car safety. You always make sure people are buckled up, keep your cell phone tucked away, obey traffic laws, and you can secure various models of children’s car seats with your eyes closed (and one hand behind your back). But, here’s a question: what happens when you bring your pet along for the ride?
Pet travel safety is as important as human travel safety – if you’re in an accident, your pet is as likely (or more likely, in many cases) to be seriously injured as you are. Here are some valuable tips on preparing for a road trip and traveling safely when your pets are in the car.
- Use a safety harness or a secured carrier. Don’t leave your dog or cat unsecured in the car. A spooked cat will head straight for the pedals. Dogs can also be unpredictable. And, though it’s unpleasant to think about, an unsecured animal will become a projectile in the event of a crash. If you think it’s important for humans to buckle up, then it should be doubly important for your animals. Pet retail stores have many varieties of travel harnesses available for dogs, and soft-sided carriers for smaller dogs and cats which can be easily secured in cars, and are approved for airline use as well. Tip: Make sure you get your pet used to the harness before you leave on a big trip.
- Don’t forget the water. If you’re road tripping, your pets are going to get thirsty. And they don’t get the privilege of springing for the big Slurpee when you fill up the tank. Bring along water in a travel container or bottle so your pet’s thirst can be quenched and so he can stay cool.
- Eat before you leave. It’s a good idea to make sure your fuzzy friends eat a full meal three to four hours before you leave on your journey. (Pets aren’t immune to car sickness.) To avoid a choking hazard, don’t feed them inside the moving vehicle, even if it is a long drive. And plan to stop every few hours to give your pet a chance to do his business.
- Don’t abandon your pet! Don’t leave your pet alone in a parked car on a hot or cold day. Even with the windows down, a car becomes a furnace or fridge pretty quickly. If you have to step inside for a minute while Fido waits in the car, leave the AC on! Many of us are guilty of just cracking the windows – but ask yourself how comfortable YOU would be in that car with the window only opened a crack?
- Papers, Please! Having a collar with up-to-date ID tags should be step one of responsible pet ownership, but that goes double when traveling. Tags, a microchip, or other method of identification could save the life of your pet. Plus, don’t forget vaccination records and other such documents from your vet. If your best friend gets ill while you’re traveling, you’re going to need them, and some states require proof of vaccination at certain interstate crossings. While that’s not a common problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, if you find you like traveling with your pets, consider investing in rubber floor liners and plastic seat / door covers, to help keep the mess of pet travel to a minimum.
Hopefully these tips will help get you there and back again with your furry companion safely; we wish you many wonderful journeys in the future!
Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com Inc, a website, blog and marketing agency providing automotive education to female consumers.