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Learn How to Keep Your Pet Safe In the Car on a Road Trip

keep your pet safe in the car

According to MMGY, in 2015 road trips represented 22% of all vacations. However, as of 2019 it had increased to 63%. That’s a 64% increase in vacationers intending to road trip. For those of you with a four-legged friend, that can present some challenges. Do you board? Do you bring them with you? If you’re like so many pet lovers, you’ll elect to bring the furriest members of your family along for the ride. So, how can you keep your pet safe in the car?

To make that next road trip a safe memory, let’s review some ideas to help keep your pet safe in the car during your next road trip vacation.

Being prepared and ready is the first step

Frankly, your pet, especially a dog, is a pretty durable animal and won’t require too much care on a road trip. That said, it’s best for you and your cat or dog that you are prepared and secure. Here are some tips to help you get ready, and prepared for your next trip.

1) Start out with some smaller trips

Some dogs aren’t comfortable with car rides, while others find it a total blast. If your dog isn’t a real fan of the car, then one way to condition them is to start with smaller trips. For instance, take them with you on your local errands, or on short drives in the local area. If you elect to take your dog along when doing errands, it may be best if you have someone else who can stay with them while you’re away from the vehicle. Some dogs may not like to stay in back seat or cargo area of your SUV. If you have a bit of a nervous roamer in the car, take this time to get them used to any puppy restraints or seatbelts you may plan to use on longer trips.

2) Always keep your pet secure

Look, you know that it’s best for you to wear a seatbelt when you’re driving. The same is true for your dog. So, like you, always keep pets secure in the designated seat in the car – preferably in the back. Keeping your pet secure in the car is not only to protect them if you get into an accident, it also keeps them from interfering in you safe operation of the vehicle.

Sure, it’s tempting to keep your pet in the front seat. This is particularly common for pet owners who have a pet that gets anxious when in the car. You must resist this temptation, your pet – and you – with them in the backseat.

3) Make sure to update microchip and registration

When you road trip, it will likely you take you hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. What would you do if you dog or cat got lost? Before you leave for your trip, make sure your pet’s microchip and tags have the most up-to-date information. In fact, keep their tags attached to their collars and make sure they’re wearing at all times while you’re on the road trip.

Your pet doesn’t  have a microchip? If this is you, then schedule a trip to the vet and get this done and ensure all your information is up to date before you leave.

Keep your pet safe in the car on a road trip

1) Never leave your pet in a hot car

This shouldn’t even need to be said, however, it continues to happen so you requires repeating. Simply don’t leave your dog in a car that isn’t running. Without climate control, it is not safe in the car for your pets. Consider this, if the outside temperature is 95 degrees—especially possibly on a summer trip—within an hour, it can be upwards of 140 degrees in your car. That’s not safe!

Just like you, if your dog’s body temperatures rises above 106 degrees it can cause heatstroke, which can then lead to organ failure or even death. Don’t leave them in the car, period. 

2) Never roll down the windows all the way

You see it all them time, in fact the image of the dog with their head out the window is a classic. (see the heading to this post 🙂 ) In reality, it’s not really safe. Sure, you’ve only rolled down the window enough so you dog can feel the blast of wind in her face. Well, even that isn’t really safe as it likely means your dog isn’t secure. Maybe they can’t jump out, but they aren’t properly strapped in should you have an accident.

Keep your windows rolled up and the air conditioner blasting. They’ll be more comfortable and safer in the long run.

3) The truck bed it not a safe place for pets

Big dogs will take up a lot of space in the cabin of your car or truck. Physics is unforgiving on this point – large dog means large mass and that demands a lot of space. But the cabin is where they belong. Never transport your dog—or any other pet—in the bed of a pickup truck. According to the American Humane society, more than 100,000 dogs die annually—either secured or unsecured—while riding in the bed of a pickup truck.

All pets should be secured in the cabin with you during a road trip, casual drive, or anytime they are riding in the car.

The bottom line

Vacation time is for fun. If bringing your cat or dog, remember, they want to have fun too! That’s the whole point. Make sure to plan plenty of pet-friendly activities, so you and your pet can enjoy the road trip. Also, take into consideration that you may need to take a few more bathroom breaks—depending on your dog— need to make sure your pet’s are comfortable and happy throughout your trip.

Driving with your pets doesn’t have to be a hassle. It’s a fantastic way to bond with and spend quality time with your pets, as long as you take some precautions to keep them safe. Another good tip, make sure you have your pet insurance paid up and ready, if your pet is injured on the trip its good to have that extra layer of security.

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