Newsletter: Aug 2012
Traveling with Pets in Cars
Whether it is just to ride to the vet, or going on vacation, there are some important considerations when traveling with pets in cars.
- Take your pet on short trips first if not accustomed to travel. Some pets have issues with motion sickness & may benefit from premedication, so seek veterinary advice. For long trips, be sure to bring pet ID + contact information, a health certificate, leash & collar, poop bags, a towel/ blanket, treats, toys, any medicines & bottled water.
- Don’t feed your pet within 3 hours of the trip. Offer water up to an hour before. There should be access to water in a spill- resistant container for long trips, or, alternatively, ice-cubes.
- Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle on a hot day, not even with the window cracked open. Even on a cool day, a car parked in direct summer sun with opened windows can heat to 120 degrees inside 10 minutes.
- When making stops, turn off the ignition & put on the dog’s leash before getting out of the car. Then look around to insure there are no dogs off-leash that might pose a threat. As you open the pet’s door, use the command “Sit, Stay”. Hold the leash securely before allowing the exit. Never let a dog run off- leash in unfamiliar surroundings. Even well- trained dogs may bolt. It is very important that a dog that is expected to travel a lot should be obedient and should always come when called in case it gets away.
- Cats and dogs traveling in cars must be restrained so that they cannot distract or interfere with the driver of the vehicle, and in such a way that they will be safe in the event of a sudden stop. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey included “Pet in Vehicle “ as a type of distraction that was found to be present in a significant proportion of crashes. In the event of a crash, an unrestrained pet can ricochet through the cabin creating severe impacts. At 44mph, research has shown, a 44lb dog can hit the seatback with ½ a ton of force. In the case of S. Dakota v. 15 Impounded Cats, the court found that police had acted lawfully in seizing 15 unrestrained cats from a car due to their presenting an “open and obvious safety hazard”. Pet seat belts, car seats & harnesses are available commercially at a variety of sites on line or at pet stores. These are the best way to secure your pet for car travel. In the absence of a purpose – designed restraint, I suggest the following. Cats should always be transported in a cat carrier. The carrier can be strapped into the front seat with the seat belt, or placed on the floor below the dash-board, depending on its size. If possible, dogs also should be transported in a well secured crate. The crate or carrier should be labeled with the pet’s ID & contact information. Dogs for which a crate is impractical should be leashed and made to sit down on the floor in front of the front passenger seat. The leash can then be looped outside the door and the door closed on the leash in such a way that the dog is restrained from jumping up onto the seat. On no account whatsoever should dogs be allowed to travel in the car with their head outside the window, or unrestrained on the flat-bed of a pick-up truck.
- In spite of a 2012 presidential candidate’s history to the contrary, Dr. Lugten does not recommend traveling with your dog in a carrier strapped to the car roof!