Pets and Car Travel Safety
Whether planning a summer vacation or a weekend road trip, people have several choices when it comes to their pets. For some, the best options are to leave them with a family member or a pet-sitter or to board them at a kennel. Another option is to take one’s furry or feathered friend along for the ride. While traveling with a pet makes for a fun family experience, there are things that must be taken into consideration when driving. Not all pets are comfortable with riding in a car, and for that reason, one must consider their animal’s disposition and ability to travel any significant distance by vehicle. Additionally, pet owners must understand what it takes to travel safely with a pet in the car.
Restraining Your Pet
Restraints are one of the most important ways to keep pets safe while traveling by car. In the event of an accident, restraints will protect animals from being thrown around or ejected from the vehicle. In addition, they also protect the driver and other passengers from the impact of an unrestrained pet during a collision. Accident prevention is another important reason for restraining pets. In an attempt at showing affection, pets may become a distraction that prevents drivers from safely operating their car. For example, a dog may want to sit in the driver’s lap while the vehicle is in motion. This may interfere with the driver’s ability to see clearly or steer properly.
There are several different types of pet restraints that are available. For dogs, options include harnesses, safety belts, and even car seats and carriers. Most felines travel well in car carriers, while travel cages are the best option when taking a road trip with a pet bird such as a cockatoo. Regardless of the type of restraint, it should be secured according to manufacturer instructions and attached to the backseat of the car or SUV. Car carriers must be large enough for one’s pet to lie down in, plus it should also have a secure latch and good ventilation.
Almost any car that is safe for humans, features air-conditioning, and has the proper restraint systems in place can be safe for pets. When buying a newer vehicle, pet owners may find that some manufacturers offer models with additional features that add to the safety of animal passengers. The specific car models are ever-changing, but some features that make vehicles safer for pet travel may include cushioned cargo area pet beds, pet barriers that are bolted in and installed by the dealer, side-curtain airbags, anchors and tethers to secure pet safety seats and harnesses, or pre-installed pet restraints. Cars with privacy glass can help protect pets by blocking some of the heat from the sun, while available fold-down seating and in-floor storage can provide space for pets and protect them from unsecured cargo in the event of an accident. Even rearview cameras are a safety feature that can protect pets that are outside of the car when the vehicle is backing up.
Don’t Let Pets Hang Out of the Window
It may look harmless and cute, but a dog that rides with its head outside of the window risks serious injury. As a car moves at high speeds, it is hit by debris that’s carried by the wind or kicked up by other vehicles. Windshields protect car passengers, and motorcycle riders have their helmets; a pet that hangs its head out of the car window has none of these protections. Debris from the road can hit a dog in the face, causing injury. A dog may also fall from or climb out of the car, and in the event of a collision, a pet hanging out of a window risks injury or death.
Never Leave Pets in the Car
When a pet is left inside of a vehicle, it is unable to ask for help or open the door. Animals left in cars are helpless, and annually, hundreds die because they are left inside of a vehicle. These deaths are often due to heat-related problems such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. When a car is parked, the interior temperature may rise by as much as 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise the longer it sits, even if the windows are left open or the car is parked beneath a tree. After an hour, the temperature inside of the vehicle can be roughly 40 degrees higher than the temperature outside of it. That means that on a bright yet relatively mild day, with outdoor temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a car’s interior could reach 105 degrees or higher.
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- AVMA: Travel by Car
- Summer Safety Tips for Pets on the Go
- Air and Car Travel in Dogs: Behavior and Training
- Traveling With Your Dog
- Road Trip! Safe Car Travel With Your Pet
- Preparing to Travel With Your Pet
- Tips for Safe Traveling With Your Bird
- On the Go With Fido or Fluffy: Kansas State University Veterinarian Tips for Traveling With Pets
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- Safety Tips When Driving With Your Pets