Traveling With Your Pet? Check Out These Tips First

Make Car Safety a Priority

It’s important to keep pets secured in the back-seat area to prevent them from distracting the driver. Also, the front seat is more dangerous for dogs and cats because the front airbags can seriously hurt or kill pets on impact.

When looking at car restraints, it’s important to consider their two primary functions: keeping the animal contained and protecting him in the event of a crash. The only restraint harness that has been approved for its crash test safety for dogs by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) is the Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness. Other harnesses failed crash tests and provided little protection — or they actually made the crash more dangerous than it would have been without restraint.

Booster seats can also be a potential risk to the pet and people in the car. But if using a booster, consider using the RC Pet Canine Friendly Safety Harness, which is recommended by the CPS and can be buckled into a booster.

No travel crates have been proven safe in crash tests. But tests suggest that buckling in the crate can be more dangerous to the animal because the seatbelt can potentially crush the crate and hurt the animal. Instead, the CPS suggests placing the crate on the floor behind the driver or passenger seat.

Head Off Carsickness

Carsickness is one of the reasons dogs and cats may become anxious on car trips, because nausea causes distress, unease, and discomfort. If you’re concerned your pet may be prone to carsickness, talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help.

It’s not unusual for these pets to develop negative feelings about car rides, which only adds to their stress and unease. To counteract this negative association, you may be able to counter-condition your pet and help develop a positive perception of car rides. Try short trips with your pet while giving him a palatable reward, such as canned food in a stuffed Kong. If the animal gets sick right from the start, place him in the car, give the reward, then end the session. As you progress, you can advance to turning on the car, then driving for short periods before returning home.

Pets who aren’t prone to carsickness may still experience anxiety during car rides. For these pets, decreasing visual stimuli — by covering your cat’s crate, for example — may ease their discomfort. E-cones (Elizabethan collars like those worn by animals after surgery) may block your dog or cat’s vision and help reduce anxiety. Or try a calming cap that slides onto your pet’s head, limiting his vision. Your veterinarian may also prescribe anxiety medication if your pet is overly anxious during rides.

Planning Makes Perfect

Taking our pets on vacation isn’t something to take lightly. It’s our responsibility to help ensure their safety and their enjoyment on the road. So commit to planning ahead for a fun and memorable adventure.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of HealthyPet magazine.


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