The summer travel season is quickly approaching and many of us will bring our pets along for the ride. We wanted to remind pet owners to use safe methods of travel for the entire family, including the dogs and cats on board. Recently, one of our young canine patients fell out of a moving vehicle and instantly died. This tragic incident brought to our attention that some pet owners are unknowingly taking unnecessary risks when traveling with their pets. We hope the following car travel tips will ensure your pet’s safety.
- Never give your pet free reign in the car. Instead, always have your pet restrained in a vehicle approved carrier, crate, or harness. This will keep them from being ejected from the vehicle, or crashing into other passengers, if an unfortunate accident does occur. A restrained pet will stay in the vehicle and be unable to run into traffic or interfere with first responders. We all like to have our pets by our sides, but sometimes that may not be best for them. The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) website is a great resource for pet restraint safety ratings. Their top pick for 2014 based on the crash test ratings is the Sleepypod Clickit Sport dog travel harness. The previous winner was the Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness based on the results of CPS testing. Whichever way you choose to secure your pets, make sure they are able to adjust their position to avoid discomfort. We recommend using treats and praise (positive reinforcement) to introduce new travel methods in an encouraging way.
- Never have your pet sit in the front seat, or on the driver’s lap. Instead, all pets should be secured in the back seat where the force of airbag deployment is not lethal or harmful. Another advantage of this travel location is reduced driver distractions and steering restriction.
- Do not place your pet in the bed of an open truck or allow him or her to lean out of a car window. Many incidents involve pets falling out of open or partially open windows. In fact, one of our clients was driving 50 miles per hour when her dog leaned onto the electric window switch which caused the window to open and the dog to fall out. Fortunately, the other drivers saw this occur and all traffic stopped before striking the dog. Again, please use one of the previously suggested safety methods to avoid freak accidents.
- Remember to never leave your pet unattended in the car on a warm day. According to the ASPCA, “the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter than the temperature outside within 10 minutes”. Cars will overheat quickly, regardless of the windows being down, or being parked in the shade. So please refrain from leaving your pet in a parked car, even if it is for a short amount of time. If a pet’s body temperature rises to 106 degrees or more (their average is 101 to 102.5 degrees) it can trigger seizures, cardiac arrest, and death.
Traveling with your pets can be fun, but do it safely. Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website for more information. Please feel free to call us if you have any pet travel concerns or questions at 773-525-3353. Happy trails!