10 Tips for Safe Car Travel
Keep your pet restrained during the ride. It isn't safe for you or your dog if they are hopping around the car while you're driving. You need to focus on driving, and your dog may distract you if they get excited or scared. Airbags are great for you, but they can kill your pet if you have an accident with them in the front seat. Because of this, pets should be in the back seat. The safest way for your pet to travel is in a carrier that has been strapped to the seat with a seatbelt or other anchor. Make sure the carrier is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. You can also use a pet seatbelt, but these have not been proven to protect animals during a car crash.
Take several short trips with your dog to get them accustomed to riding in the car before you take off on a long trip. Gradually increase the length of these shorter trips to work up to long-distance travel with dogs.
Feed your pet a light meal three to four hours before you leave. While you're on the road, always stop to feed your dog. Don't feed them in a moving vehicle. This may help avoid pet car sickness.
Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. It is a safety concern at temperatures higher than 70°F or lower than 35°F. However, passersby may decide to break your window to free your dog if they think they are trapped inside at any temperature.
Pack a travel kit for your pet. Make sure to include your pet's health records, including proof of recent immunizations. Bring your pets regular food, water, medications, and bowls. You should also include the supplies you need to clean up after your pet, such as waste bags and a scoop. To keep your pet happy and occupied during the trip, pack a few toys, including some new ones for novelty and a few old favorites. Lastly, don't forget a pet first-aid kit.
Identify your pet. While your pet should have a microchip, make sure they have a collar with an ID tag with your home address and cell phone number as well. For longer trips and vacations, get a temporary tag with the phone number of the destination where you'll be staying in case your pet gets lost while you're traveling. All collars should be flat, and never use a choke collar on your dog.
Don't let your dog ride with their head out the window. There's no denying this makes some dogs happy, and it's cute to see. However, your pet risks getting struck by passing debris or thrown out the window in case of a collision or if you have to unexpectedly slam on brakes or turn. If you're following tip #1, this won't be an issue, but it's worth repeating.
Carry your pet's important documents with you. If you're traveling across state or international borders, a health certificate may be required in addition to proof of rabies vaccination.
Bring your own water or provide your dog with bottled water. Drinking water from an unfamiliar source may cause an upset stomach.
Prepare your car for your dog. There are many car seats and floor covers that protect your car and add comfort for your dog. If you find yourself frequently traveling with dogs, you may want to invest in some of these.
For more information about National Pet Travel Safety Day, click HERE.