Keep a Pet Safe in the Car

July 11, 2011

People love their pets.  They dress them up, organize their birthday parties and often bring their cats or dogs along on errands and road trips.  But a well-meaning pet parent could be putting their companion at risk.

While many pet owners know not to keep their dog or cat locked in a car with the windows shut even for a short duration of time, there are other “dont’s” when pets are taken on the road.

1.  Riding in the driver’s seat: Many pet parents place their pooches on their laps when going for a car ride.  Not only is this dangerous, but it could also be illegal, too.  A pet in a driver’s lap could inadvertently hit the gear shift, distract the driver, end up under the accelerator or brake, or attempt to lunge out of an open window.  Any of these scenarios makes driving hazardous.

2.  Driving without a seat belt:  Just as people should buckle up, so should pets.  The safest manner of travel is to have the pet in a carrier that is secured in the car.  For larger dogs, a harness that keeps the dog seated in the backseat is ideal.  Some drivers also prefer a pet barrier that is installed in the rear area of an SUV.  In the event of an accident, a secured pet won’t become a dangerous missile in the car.

3.  Riding in the truck bed:  Pickup truck drivers may think it’s fine to have their pooch ride in the open air of the truck bed.  However, a dog may chase after an animal on the side of the road, attempting to leap out while the vehicle is in motion.  A leashed dog may end up becoming hanged or dragged behind the truck.  Always keep pets inside the vehicle when traveling.

4.  Riding with face out the window:  All it takes is one small stone or some other debris to end up in a pet’s face to blind him or her.  Plus, rushing wind can damage a pet’s sensitive ear drums.  Although many dogs can’t resist the temptation of putting their heads out of a car window, it is safer to keep them inside.

5. Making dogs jump in and out of the car:  As pets get older, they, too can succumb to some of the side effects of old age.  Larger dogs may experience arthritis or hip discomfort.  It can be uncomfortable to jump in and out of a vehicle, particularly a truck or SUV.  Dog ramps are a safer option, and one that keeps a pet’s comfort in mind.

6.  Failure to use ID:  A microchip and a collar with personal information is essential for the pet that travels with his or her human companion.  In the event the pet becomes lost, these methods of identification will help the pet be reunited with its owner much more quickly.

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