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Traveling with pets? Car safety tips

Posted on: May 28th, 2009 by

It’s nearly summer. Time for a vacation. Every year around this time a strange, beautiful sound, like a choir of angels, fills the air. It beckons me out of the house and, strangely, into my car. What is it? Ah yes, it’s the call of the open road!

Whether I drive to the mountains, the beach, or to my favorite picnic spot, I like to bring my dog—a huge, floppy-eared adventure-loving Labradoodle named Murphy. A road trip with pets, of course, is more complicated than traveling without them, but well worth the effort. After all, pets often enjoy the adventure of travel as much as humans do. (Maybe even more!)

Here are a few tips to make sure you and your pets arrive safe and sound.

  • Never, ever, ever leave pets in a parked car, even with the windows down. When it’s 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside your car can reach more than 100 degrees in just 10 minutes, possibly leading to death.
  • Consult your veterinarian before you go. If your pet has any health conditions (or a very nervous disposition) that could be aggravated by traveling, take these into account.
  • If it’s Fido’s first road trip, start by taking him on several small trips around town to make sure he does well with car travel.
  • Make sure to pack your pet’s food, a supply of cool water, a leash, comfortable bedding and any medications your pet might need.
  • For extended trips, check with motels or hotels along the route to make sure they are pet-friendly.
  • Make time for rest stops, when you should offer your pet a drink and check for signs of stress or car sickness.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing ID tags. Bring a photo of the pet in case they get away and become lost.

Finally, you should seriously consider using a pet car harness—a “seat belt” specifically designed for dogs. In the State of California, these pet restraints are mandatory, and for good reason: every year hundreds of dogs are injured, maimed or killed in car accidents.

I recently priced some harnesses that range from $12.99 for small dogs up to $29.99 for big guys like Murphy. This seems like a pretty good deal when you think about what you’d pay if they were hurt. Protecting your best friend is priceless.

Oh, one last tip—make sure to have fun and take lots of pictures! Those memories are priceless, too.

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