WHEN YOU BUCKLE UP…DON’T FORGET YOUR PET!

It’s fun to take your furry friends for a ride in the car.  In fact, it’s become so routine, even the teller at the drive-up window is equipped with a stash of treats for your special shotgun rider! Yet, as exciting as it all seems, whether you’re simply riding around town, or on a road trip, it’s important to remember, “Safety first!”

Unsecured pets are a risk to themselves and to the other occupants in the vehicle.  A sudden stop at a speed of just 10mph can send them hurtling towards the windshield, or into the other passengers, resulting in potentially serious injuries all around.  Riding in the driver’s lap, or front passenger’s lap creates a hazardous distraction and places them at extreme risk from deploying airbags in the event of an accident. Cats spend less time riding in cars, but because of their skittish nature, it’s extremely important that they be safely secured! A towel thrown over their carrier may give them the sense of privacy and security that comforts them, reducing their anxiety and yours as well.

A false sense of security arises from allowing pets to ride untethered in the back, with their heads out the window.  If you’ve ever had the frightening experience of a stone or any loose object hitting your windshield at 40mph, you know the type of damage that impact can inflict on your vehicle.  Imagine that same projectile hitting your dog’s face, eyes or head…the consequences could be catastrophic!

Highway Safety statistics reveal 84% of drivers, with dogs in their car, do not use any form of restraint, creating an unsafe condition in the vehicle, and dramatically increasing the potential risk of an accident caused by distracted driving.  Additionally, an unsecured pet has little chance of surviving even a minor accident without some type of injury, potentially even death.  While none of us expects to be in an accident, the Insurance Institute warns that over 80% of drivers will experience some type of fender bender during their lifetime.

Installing safeguards to protect your pet should be a priority. The variety of vehicle pet safety devices ranges from seatbelt adaptors, car seats and hammocks, to an array of crates, all of which protect your pet from serious injury and prevent them from fleeing a vehicle during the chaos that ensues when there is an incident.  The one you choose should be based on safety and comfort, and can incorporate the things you and your pet enjoy on the road…if your pet likes looking out the window, choose a restraint that will boost them up and give them a clear view through a “closed” window!  Remember, whatever you choose, it should be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.  It may take a few trips to acclimate them to their new mode of transportation, but a treat, some calming music, and a few words of reassurance will help them adapt.  During any transition difficulties, remind yourself that their safety is what matters.  As always, don’t ever leave your pet in a vehicle during warm weather, and bring plenty of water and food to keep them hydrated and fed on long trips.

Your veterinarian should always be your first resource for information relating to your pet’s health and safety, so be sure to get their advice whenever you’re making decisions regarding your pets.  Before you hit the road during 2019, do everything you can to ensure everyone in your vehicle arrives safely at your destination!