Americans love their pets and love travelling with them. Many families take pets on errands, trips to friends’ homes as well as on family vacations, and experts agree that this is easy to do as long as the safety of pet and passengers is considered ahead of time.
When traveling by car or truck, unrestrained pets represent a huge risk to people and the pets themselves. According to the Humane Society, animals should never be allowed to wander your vehicle during any trip, even a short one. In addition to the risk of being injured in the event of an accident, unrestrained pets are a distraction and can also be the cause of accidents.
How to restrain your pet during a car ride should be the first consideration, no matter how long you plan to be in the car.
In larger vehicles, use of a crate is common because there is more room for a crate in the very back or on the floorboard. Be sure the size of the crate fits the size of your animal, so that there is room for it to lie down safely. Crates do double duty, ensuring the pet’s safety as well as saving your vehicle from excess hair or other messes.
If you drive an SUV or similar vehicle with a large, open cargo area, you may want to consider using a divider to keep your pet contained to that area of the vehicle’s cabin. There are various models on the market including mesh and wire, removable and permanent barriers to choose from. Be sure that the divider you chose is designed to fit your particular vehicle.
Harnesses can also be secured to your vehicle’s seatbelt system to keep your pet safe. When restraining your pet with a harness, make sure that windows are closed, and cover the seats with old towels or blankets to keep your car clean.
Some pets experience motion sickness while traveling in cars. It’s best to attempt short trips first to see if your pet is comfortable during rides or if motion sickness is a concern. If you are planning a long trip and your pet has never travelled with you, make your practice runs successively longer. This will gradually get the animal used to riding for longer and longer periods of time, and it will give you a chance to address any issues with motion sickness or anxiety.
If your pet exhibits symptoms of car sickness or anxiety, call your veterinarian. They are a great source of advice and can also medicate pets who have to travel but are uncomfortable doing so. No one likes to medicate a pet, but it may be necessary for their comfort and safety.
When you reach your destination, remove your pet from the vehicle. Even if you don’t anticipate being away from the car for long, it takes only a few minutes for a car to reach dangerously high temperatures during warmer months. If you are making a quick trip to the grocery store or some other place where pets are not allowed, leave your animal at home. Having the windows rolled down in no way ensures a safe temperature inside a parked car.
Finally, placing your pet in the open bed of a pickup presents a variety of risks and should be avoided even if the pet is restrained with a leash or harness.
Many pets become accustomed to and enjoy car trips with their owners. It just takes a few preparations and a little thought to ensure that travelling with them is a safe and comfortable experience.