Road tips to make sure your vehicle is safe for your pets
I remember heading to the beach in a friend’s car with his dog, Bobby, many years ago. Bobby loved to stick his head out of the window and let his tongue flap in the breeze. I also recall how another friend’s dog would sit quietly by her side as she drove. So it surprised me to learn that these were no-nos when it came to ensuring safety when driving with pets.
Whether you are taking your pets to the park or to the vet, find out more about how to keep you and your furry friends safe in the car.
Keep your pet away from the window
It’s no surprise that dogs love hanging their heads outside the car’s windows. There’s that fun rush of air and lots of exciting smells along the way. But that wind might also carry sand or foreign matter into your dog’s ears and eyes. Flying debris could also injure your dog. Having a window open too wide might also tempt your dog or cat to leap out, endangering both the pet and other road users.
Keep pets in the back seat
It’s best to let your dogs ride in the back seat. While a pet owner may argue that his or her dog is well trained and will not move from their side or their lap, a dog seated in front is a distraction that can potentially cause an accident. On top of that, if an accident causes your airbags to deploy, it may crush your pet even if it is inside a carrier.
Keep your pet secure
Get your pets used to being ferried in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. It is the safest way to transport them in a vehicle. Do secure the carrier with seat belts. A pet that is allowed to run loose in the cabin could be thrown about in an accident or if you brake too suddenly. Dogs or cats roaming freely in the car could be a dangerous distraction when they obstruct the driver’s view or get entangled in the accelerator or brake pedals.
Install barriers and belts for big dogs
If you have a large dog and your car is not equipped to carry a big crate, you can invest in a pet barrier that separates the front seat from the back. These come as adjustable metal bars or grates or canvas slings that stretch across the car. You can also find seat belts that attach to a dog’s harness. These are also useful for keeping your dog inside the car while you unload groceries or simply to stop them from bolting out the moment the door is open.
Never leave pets in car unattended
Pets should never be left in unattended cars. On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace even with the windows slightly opened, and your pet could suffer from heat stroke or dehydration. Plan your trip properly so that you will not be caught in a situation where you suddenly realise you need to run an errand or quickly pick something up and have to leave your pet in a parked car.
Never lose your pet
When going out for a drive with your pet, even if it is just a trip to the vet, do make sure that it wears an up-to-date ID tag with contact information in case of an emergency.