Depending on the animal and its temperament, it can be either a pleasure or a nuisance when it comes to taking a pet along for a ride. Unfortunately, there are certain hazards that come with having pets in a vehicle, and the wrong decision or action on the part of a pet owner can result in death or serious injuries to the animal. An animal who is allowed to ride in a car without any thought of safety is potentially at risk of falling or jumping from the vehicle, being thrown from it, disrupting the driver, and other hazardous incidents; because animals are entirely dependent on their owners to protect them from these threats, it is the responsibility of owners to ensure the safety of their pets. To do this they must understand what to do and what not do while driving with an animal in an automobile.
There are many reasons why people take their pets with them when traveling by car, such as a trip to the vet, the beach, or a family vacation. As with any passenger, the driver must ensure that his or her pet is as comfortable and secure as possible. Unfortunately, this isn't always a possibility, as some animals become nervous and agitated in moving vehicles. It is important that people know their pets and whether they are able to travel safely in a car. If a person is uncertain, taking the animal for short drives around the block can reveal any nervousness or fear that it may have. This can help some animals adjust to being inside a moving vehicle and they may even begin to look forward to it. Some animals, however, may never become comfortable with cars, particularly if they have had a negative experience inside of one. If long road trips are unavoidable, a vet may be able to help by prescribing a sedative for the animal.
Animals should never be allowed to wander or sit in the driver's lap while a vehicle is in motion. Like humans, they should be restrained for their safety and the safety of others. If one's pet is a feline, it should always travel inside of a hard or soft pet carrier. Dogs may also travel in an appropriately sized crate or carrier that allows them to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. Whether the animal is a dog or a cat, carriers and crates must be secured, so that they do not slide and will not be easily be ejected from the vehicle in the event of an accident or hard stop. Harnesses or seat belts for dogs are another way to secure animals while driving. These typically attach to the car's seat belt buckle and are designed to keep animals from freely walking around in a vehicle, as well as potentially being ejected or thrown in an emergency. Dogs that are harnessed should never be allowed to ride with their heads outside of the car window. Although this may seem cute or fun, animals can easily be injured by flying debris. In addition to injuries to the eye or other areas of the face, they may also develop lung infections or sustain damage to their ears.
Most people are aware of how important it is to never leave children alone inside of a parked car. This rule also applies to animals. In the summer, the inside of a car quickly heats to dangerous levels, even when the windows of the vehicle are open. Even when parked for a brief period a car can quickly become a hot furnace, causing heat stroke and the potential death of a pet. During the winter months, cars in extremely cold weather conditions can turn as cold as a freezer and also severely injure or even kill a pet.
Seeing a domestic animal riding in the backseat of a car is not an uncommon sight. People drive with their pets for many reasons ranging from necessity to fun. Although many people travel with their pets in the car, they don't always take the necessary steps to ensure that they are safe. Learning how to drive safely with one's pet in the car is a positive step towards being a responsible pet owner.
For more information on car ride safety for pets, please read and review the following links.
- Traveling with Your Pets - Travel by Car
- Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with Your Pet
- Traveling Safely With Your Pet by Car, Airplane, Ship, or Train
- Pet Safety Tips - Pet Travel Tips
- Traveling With Your Dog
- Traveling with Your Pet FAQ: Forms of Travel - Traveling by Car
- Top Five Safety Tips for Traveling With a Pet in the Car
- Preparing to Travel with Your Pet
- Traveling by Car With Your Animal Companion
- Traveling with Your Cat
- How to Prep for Traveling with Your Pet Video
- Traveling with Cats (PDF)
By: Lisa Smith