Thursday, October 1, 2015

The ABCs of Pet Transportation Safety

(C) Valerie Cox, Used by Permission

Air Circulation- Whether your pet is in a crate, backseat, or cargo area, make sure your pet is receiving an adequate supply of air. As a human, a lack of fresh air is not fun so imagine what it is like as an animal.

Bathroom Breaks- When traveling with an animal, always allow for frequent bathroom breaks. Unless you want a smelly surprise when you unload your pet, provide your pet a bathroom break every 2 to 3 hours.

Crates- The safest option for transporting animals is to use a crate, and be sure the crate is safely secure using a seatbelt or tie-down strap. Crates stop animals from roaming around the vehicle which could lead to distracted driving, and they also protect animals from injuries sustained during accidents.

Distracted Driving- Driving with an unrestrained pet is considered distracted driving, and allowing a pet to roam around the vehicle freely is a danger to the animal, yourself, and other motorists.

Exercise- If you are on a long road trip, plan frequent stops for exercise opportunities. You may be able to drive 8 hours without stopping, but your furry friend needs time to stretch his legs.

Food- Bring plenty of your pet’s food for both the drive and once you arrive at your destination. A trip to a new place will be experience enough for your pet so this is not the time to try out a new food because you ran out or simply forgot it.

Growth- As your pet ages, your mode of transportation and safety features need to grow as well. The safety restraint that once fit your 10 lb. puppy will need to be replaced to accommodate the size increase as he grows.

Harness- If you want an alternative to crates, harnesses are suitable for pet transportation. Make sure the harness has shoulder padding and secures along the chest, and if given a choice, choose a shorter tether length because this will allow less room for your furry friend to be thrown if your vehicle is hit.

Inside the Vehicle- While a vehicle is moving, animals should remain inside at all times. Hanging their heads out of the window seems harmless, but the wind and debris can actually lead to damage of the animal’s eyes and head. Additionally, animals are prone to jump from moving vehicles, and having closed windows eliminates this danger.

Jitters- Do road trips make you nervous? If so, you can pass those jitters on to your pet. If you are calm in the vehicle and speak to your pet in a reassuring voice, they will have no reason to be nervous about traveling.

Knowledge- Knowledge is power, and you should be aware of legal information pertaining to transporting pets in your home state and any state you are visiting. In several states, it is illegal to drive while holding an animal in your lap, and other states have laws surrounding improper transportation of a pet while in a vehicle.

Leash- When pets are exiting the vehicle, make sure they are properly leashed. When animals are in new places, they are tempted to explore their new surroundings, and this will ensure you know of their whereabouts.

Microchip- Before you travel, have a microchip placed in your pet, and make sure identification tags are current. When lost animals are found, microchips greatly increase the chances of reuniting them with their families.

Nails- Have your pets’ nails clipped before you travel. Not only will this protect your car’s interior, it will also alleviate pain from their paws, especially if they will be outside for a large portion of time.

Open Areas- Never allow your pet to ride in an open area such as a truck bed. Dogs, in particular, are prone to jump out of open areas when they see something of interest. Thousands of animals are injured each year from jumping injuries, and this can easily be eliminated.

Practice- Practice makes perfect, and before you transport your pets on a lengthy distance, practice with short drives to acclimate them. Your pets should practice riding in a crate or sitting in their harness so they will be accustomed to the feeling before the trip begins.

Quick Stops- Quick stops make for a quick trip. Plan your trip beforehand so you are certain you have an adequate amount of breaks for your pet, but the stops should not be overly lengthy. Give your furry friend time to stretch his legs, but this is not the time for a two hour gourmet lunch.

Ramp- For older animals, getting in and out of vehicles can be troublesome, and a loading ramp eases the burden for them. By using a ramp, you will not have to worry about lifting them into your vehicle.

Safety Certified Products- Every product your pet uses should be safety certified and crash tested. The higher quality products might cost extra money, but I think you would agree that your pet’s safety is worth a few extra dollars.

Temperature- Never force your pet to stay in a parked vehicle. Even if it’s a quick stop, the temperature climb will be too hard on your pet, and venting the windows does not help relieve the heat. Within ten minutes of stopping your vehicle, the temperature can climb up to 19°, and the temperature can rise 45° in under an hour.

Understand Limitations- Every pet is different, and you should be aware of your pet’s limitations for rides in the vehicle. After your pet’s first vehicle ride, you will recognize more of what your furry friend can tolerate in a vehicle.

Vaccinations- Whether you are going on a cross-country road trip or a simple trip to the doggy park, you have no idea of what your pet will be exposed to, and as a precautionary measure, you should have your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date. Better to be safe than sorry.

Water- Hydration is important, especially in animals, and you should bring along a water bowl and supply of water so your pet can stay hydrated throughout the journey.

Explain Safety Precautions- As a pet owner, you should take on the responsibility of explaining safety precautions to those you know. Whether it is your neighbor, co-worker, or stranger you meet at the pet store, educate others on pet safety…you could save a life.

Young- Start driving with your pets when they are a young age. By exposing them to road trips at a young age, they will become accustomed to the journey, and this could alleviate nervousness and anxiety on their part.

ZZZs- Depending on how well your pet travels in the car, you might consider sleep medication for the ride. Your veterinarian should be able to prescribe sleeping medication for your furry friend.

About the Author:
Valerie handles media relations for Caliber Collision, and in her spare time, she enjoys taking her dog Emma, a 4 year old Golden Retriever, on walks and to the dog park where Emma always makes “friends.”

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