7 Tips for Traveling Safely with a Pet in the Car

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Tips, Distracted Driving, Driving and Safety Tips

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Traveling with a pet is not easy. Cars were designed with humans in mind, so when you try to accommodate a four-legged animal like a cat or a dog, it becomes automatically more difficult to make sure that they are safe and secure while driving. And in fact, most cats and dogs do not cope well with car rides, so it is often best to leave them at home when going on a trip.

However, sometimes you need to take your pet in a car, in order to get to places such as the vet or to a good place to walk them. In this instance, it is hard to know what the best practices are. How do you make sure that your pet is both safe and comfortable while you are driving? The Human Society of the United States has published a list of advice for traveling with pets. Here are some of the most important points.

Don’t Let Your Dog Roam Around in the Car

Not only is this an unsafe way to drive, as you will certainly be distracted by your pet jumping around in the car, but it is also unsafe for your dog. The safest way for your dog to travel in a car is with a crate that has been secured to the vehicle. Obviously this is not always practical, especially if you have a smaller car. A good alternative can be to use a dog seatbelt to prevent your dog from moving around. The Human Society website warns that these have not been proven to protect dogs during a crash, but they are certainly safer than the alternative.

Always use a cat carrier

As a general rule, cats are not fans of traveling in a car. But if you must take them somewhere, always use a cat carrier. Again, allowing them to roam around will be unsafe for the driver as well as the cat. If you use a carrier however, be sure to secure it to the car, otherwise it could harm your cat if it shifts around.

Don’t put your pet in the front seat

If an airbag deployed it could injure your pet, even if it’s in a crate. They are much safer in the back seat.

never put a pet in the back of a pickup truck

While it might seem like a convenient place, you should never use the back of an open pickup truck to transport a pet. Furthermore, do not let them stick their head out of the window. If you want them to get some fresh air, you can crack the window or crank up the air conditioning.

Take plenty of breaks

If you are traveling a long distance, take plenty of rest stops. Spend a while, let your dog run around and drink some water, but only let them out of the car if they have a leash, collar and tags.

If possible, bring a friend

You will be a lot safer while driving if you have someone else to look after the pet while you drive, or vice versa. Bring someone else whenever possible.

Never ever leave your pet alone in a car

Even if you think that the weather is mild, even if you think it’ll just be a quick stop, even if the windows are slightly open, the chances are that it is going to heat up or cool down dramatically in your car. Never, ever leave an animal in there unattended.
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