When the weather is warm, there’s nothing better than a leisurely drive with the windows down, the radio up and your favorite furry companion riding shot gun. Chances are, if you own a dog, ‘Wanna go for a ride?’ or ‘Wanna go to the dog park?’ are questions you ask on a regular basis. Let’s face it, you can’t help but smile when you see how excited they get – the way their tail wags with exaggerated enthusiasm, the way they can’t wait to stick their head out the window – ears flapping and mouths smiling. While this is certainly amusing and sometimes hilarious to watch, it’s not exactly the safest way for you or your dog to travel. These tips will help to ensure that you and your pet have a safe, distraction-free car ride every time.
Although you see many dog owners who let their dogs ride in the front with them, it’s much safer for them to ride in the back. If she’s not already accustomed to sitting in the back seat, purchasing a vehicle safety harness is a great way to get her to to lay down comfortably and get used to traveling in the back. Plus, if you stop short or get in a minor fender bender, the harness will ensure that your dog stays in the back seat, injury-free. Never attatch a restraint directly to your dog’s collar and never let your dog ride loose in the back of a pick up truck. Both of these scenarios are dangerous and could be fatal if you get into an accident or brake to quickly.
If you do choose to have your pup ride next to you, resist the urge to let her stick her head out the window. Besides the obvious hazardous implacations this presents for your dog’s safety, it can be distracting for you and for other drivers. Again, using a safety harness or putting her in a crate or even a doggy car seat is the best way to go, even in the front seat. A dog who sits on your lap or runs from the driver’s seat to the passanger’s seat throughout the entire ride is a hinderance to safe driving practices.
For cat owners who also choose to travel with their cats, these same rules still apply. Putting your cat in a carrier is essential. Many cats get frightened during car rides and a loose cat can hide under the seat or curl up by the gas/ brake pedals, creating an extremely dangerous situation.
Finally, under no circumstances should you leave your pet in the car during the summer. Even with the windows cracked, a car can heat up quickly, leading to a distressed pet. By following these tips, you’ll ensure a long future of safe and happy car rides together. For more information on pet safety, consult your local Milwaukee area veterinarian.