The holidays are traditionally a time for travel to visit friends and family. If you travel with your pet, do you consider your pet’s safety when making your travel plans and preparations? Nowadays, more pets are traveling with us wherever we go, and it is our obligation to take precautions to ensure our pets are safe whenever they travel with us, even if it’s just a short trip to the corner store. Founded by Celebrity Pet and Safety Expert, Animal Behaviorist and former Los Angeles Paramedic Colleen Paige, the goal of National Pet Travel Safety Day on January 2nd is to raise awareness of the importance of pet safety when it comes to all areas of travel. As an added benefit, because an unrestrained pet is a distraction and can interfere with the driver’s ability to safely drive the car, ensuring your pet’s safety will also improve safety for everyone on the road. Some tips for making sure your pet is safe during car travel:
Get your dog used to traveling. An over-excited or anxious pet makes a poor traveler, so spend some time getting your dog used to regular car rides. Start off with short trips around the block and to fun destinations such as the dog park. Reward your dog with treats so your dog associates car rides with good things. If you only take your pet in the car for trips to the vet, the car will automatically have a negative association.
Restrain your pet. If you must come to an abrupt stop while driving, an unrestrained pet can become a projectile and is subject to great injury. Make sure your pet is properly restrained whenever you travel by car with one of these options:
- The simplest and safest method is a well-ventilated pet carrier of the appropriate size which is securely fastened inside the car.
- If you don’t have room for a crate or carrier in your car, consider a dog car seat or booster seat. These are usually elevated to allow your pet to see out the windows, and have a leash attachment to keep your pet in place.
- A pet barrier is another option which keeps your dog safely confined to the back seat or cargo area and away from the driver. For pets that experience travel sickness, or just to protect the interior of your car, consider car seat covers.
Identification is important. Whenever you travel with your pet, make sure your dog or cat has current identification, ideally a collar and ID tag that can be spotted immediately as well as a permanent form of identification such as a microchip or tattoo as a backup in case the collar becomes separated from your pet. If you are in an accident, or even if you open the door to leave the car, an excited or scared dog or cat can easily bolt and become lost in an unfamiliar area.
Finally, this is a good time to remind everyone never to leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Even on a mild day, it doesn’t take long for the interior temperature of a parked car to become dangerously hot. On cold days, your pets are at risk of hypothermia.