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Hot Tips for Safe Summer Auto Travel with Pets

Did you know that 14 million dogs and 3 million cats travel annually with their owners to both local or international vacation destinations – the majority of them in automobiles – according to the American Pet Product Association (APPA)? Millions more travel in automobiles around town daily with their owners.

Pets have places to go too, so they need safe auto transportation just like we do! And the summer months can pose additional dangers for pets that we need to be aware of.

Whether Sparky or Felix is riding along on your summer vacation or headed to the dog park, his safety and comfort starts with you. Here are a few tips to keep your precious pet safe and sound while driving around, particularly in hot summer months.

  1. Always travel with a supply of fresh water for your dog or cat, and if the journey will be a long one, bring enough of their food to meet their needs.
  2. Never leave a pet unattended in a car, even if the windows are slightly cracked for ventilation. The temperature inside the car can rise to deadly levels in just 10-15 minutes.
  3. Comfortably restrain your pet with a harness, pet-specific car seat or carrier in the back seat or cargo area. Unrestrained pets are free to hop from window to window, front seat to back, and may even dive into the driver’s floorboard causing an inability to brake or accelerate—literally, an accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately, eighty percent of us have never used a pet restraint while traveling by car, says an APPA report. Many high quality pet restraints are available online and at pet supply centers.
  4. Make sure doors are locked and activate child safety features to keep pets from inadvertently rolling down windows or unlocking doors.
  5. Don’t allow dogs to hang their head out of the moving vehicle or ride in the open bed of a pick up truck. Veterinarians see cases involving injuries from flying debris or pet falling out of a door not shut properly. And unrestrained dogs are easily bounced or launched out of truck beds during a quick stop or sharp turn.
  6. Air bags, noted for their life saving successes for adults, can be very dangerous to pets and small children, especially those not seated or properly restrained. These safety bags were designed for the human form, not our critters, so securing pets in the back seat or cargo area is the best option.
  7. Make sure that you have a collar or harness on your pet and a leash available in case unexpected exit of the car is necessary. And be sure to have up to date identification tags and a permanent microchip implanted in your pet in case you become separated in an accident.
  8. Pets who drool, whine, pace and pant in the car should probably be left at home. Or, if transportation is necessary, talk to your veterinarian about all-natural calming remedies available at many pet supply retailers. Tranquilizers or other forms of sedation can cause upset stomach or enough disorientation to cause your pet to lose their sense of balance and coordination. That could also lead to injury.

Speaking of travel, check out the Get Your Licks on Route 66 adoption tour with the North Shore Animal League of America, BISSELL Homecare and Fido Friendly magazine! They continue their journey along historic Rt.66, stopping at cities along the way to promote the adoption of healthy, happy, but homeless dogs and cats. Check out their blog at www.getyourlicks.org. Maybe they’re coming to a city near you!

Additional Pet Auto Travel Resources:
www.petautosafety.com
www.pettravel.com
www.hsus.com (enter “pet travel” in the search engine)

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Written by:
Kristen Levine, pet lifestyle expert

June 26, 2009

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