Your pet’s safety should always be among your top priorities when traveling with pets. Most people wouldn’t leave a chocolate bar next to a dog, or leave a pet in a hot car, but many drivers do something just as dangerous every time their pet is in the car: Leave the pet unsecured and without any type of safety device.
Fortunately, it’s possible to do more to make sure your pets arrive safely with you at their destination than just wish for good luck. Here are some ways to keep pets safe in your vehicle.
Canine Car Safety
First of all, never permit a dog to ride unsecured in a moving vehicle. The most unsafe way for a dog to ride is unsecured in the back of a pickup truck. Despite this transportation method being so dangerous it’s been outlawed in several states, some people continue to allow dogs to ride in pickup truck beds. This could lead to grievous injuries or, more likely, death, should the dog jump out or the truck be rear-ended on the road.
So what should dog owners do to keep their pets safe while riding in cars? There are several options, but I prefer to use a seatbelt harness for most dogs. These harnesses generally fit similarly to a walking harness, but have a padded chest and a loop on the back through which you can slide a seatbelt and then buckle the seatbelt to secure your dog. This method works well for most pets, but certain wiggly dogs will not settle down and ride calmly while seatbelted in. These energetic pooches should ride in a crate. If possible, the crate should be secured to prevent it from sliding around in the car or flying forward in the event of an accident.
Car Safety for Cats
Cats should always ride in a hard-sided crate secured to prevent slipping. Small bungee cords, sold at most hardware stores or sporting goods stores, are useful for this purpose. Never permit a cat to ride in an automobile unless she’s in a carrier. Even the calmest cat can become frightened and cause a safety hazard by distracting the driver, and unsecured animals can become lethal projectiles if an accident occurs.
Car Safety for Other Pets
Most pets other than cats and dogs can ride safely in a secured hard-sided crate. Small pets should have food and water available at all times for long drives, as their rapid metabolisms demand frequent meals. Take special care when transporting parrots. Their fragile respiratory systems make them vulnerable to airborne irritants. Avoid being stuck in traffic jams or in any other situation that might introduce exhaust fumes into a vehicle when a parrot is in the car.