Did you know that 2 January is National Pet Travel Safety Day? And with a company slogan like Never Roam Alone™… we can obviously get behind a holiday like this.
(Seriously… we don’t make these things up, just ask Google.)
Your dog is a member of the family and likely to tag along when you hit the road, but just like traveling with any other family member, their safety and comfort is important regardless of the distance or destination.
We’ve put together a list of 10 safety tips for you and your best friend.
In the event of an emergency, such as a lost pet, proper identification can help bring your dog home. Make sure his microchip information is up-to-date with the correct contact information. He should also have a collar with the relevant/up-to-date information.
2. Health Checks
Depending on where you live and where you’re heading, it’s always a good idea to make sure all of his vaccinations are up-to-date. This includes flea, tick and heartworm treatments.
3. Prepping your dog for long road trips
If your dog isn’t used to traveling in the car, you can help get him ready for the open road by taking him on a series of shorter drives and gradually lengthening his time spent in the car.
4. Avoid car-sickness
It’s best if your dog doesn’t eat less than 3 to 4 hours prior to departure to avoid an upset tummy. If the drive is long and you have to feed on the road, make sure to keep the meals light and never feed while moving. Plan a break to feed, potty and give him a few minutes before hitting the road again. Remember that he should have plenty of water at all times during the trip.
5. Give him - and yourself - a break
It’s important to remember that traveling with a dog is sort of like traveling with a young child. Sure, you can power through several hours at a time to shave 30 minutes off your drive time, but that doesn’t mean your dog can. You should plan to stop every 2 to 3 hours to let him out, have a potty break and generally stretch his legs. Don’t forget to enjoy the break yourself!
6. Travel Kit
Bring the essentials such as food, water, bowls, waste bags, a first-aid kit and any travel documents. You can also pack a favorite toy or blanket to help him feel at ease.
7. Never leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle
This can be tricky if you’re on the road alone, so finding areas or rest stops that allow dogs can be important. Left in the car, a dog can easily suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia (depending where you’re traveling). Dogs can even be stolen from unattended vehicles.
Cars can be hot for dogs, remember to keep the car well ventilated. It’s especially important to make sure that they have plenty of fresh air flow when secured in a crate.
9. Roadside safety
Remember those planned breaks? Well it’s important to practice roadside safety for both you and your dog. Stopping in undesignated areas can be dangerous for both of you, so make sure you stop at appropriate rest stops. Make sure that your dog is safely secured with a leash before allowing him to exit the car to prevent him from dashing into traffic or into an unknown area.
10. Securing your dog
Arguably the most important topic on this list, securing your dog is a lengthy and significant topic. It boils down to 2 things, distraction prevention and crash protection.
Securing your dog will prevent potentially hazardous distractions from your unknowingly curious dog. A survey conducted by AAA showed that nearly a third of drivers were distracted by their dogs. In fact, more and more states are beginning to regulate transportation standards of dogs for both the safety of dogs and humans.
Securing protects not only your dog, but you and other passengers as well. A 10 pound dog in a 30 mph crash can exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an 80 pound dog in a 30 mph crash can exert roughly 2,400 pounds of pressure. This is obviously dangerous for all passengers in the car.
So what to think about when it comes to securing your dog in the car:
Not all safety harnesses are created equal so if you go down this route, you should do you research and choose wisely. The Center for Pet Safety encourages owners to use crash-test rated products.
Crates are the best option to ensure your dog’s safety when traveling by car. You should look at their safety-certifications, choose the right size for your dog and select one that allows for good air circulation to keep your pet comfortable in all four seasons.
Some people intuitively want to “buckle up” their dog’s crate. DON’T. Unless the manufacturer instructs you to do so, using a seat belt to secure a crate can cause more harm due to the structural integrity during a crash.
Lastly it’s worth mentioning that a dog secured can be unloaded from the car more safely. It allows you to safely leash your dog before removing them from the car whereas and unsecured dog (regardless of training) can become overly excited/nervous and quickly bolt when a car is opened. Secure dogs are also safer for emergency services too. It allows them to enter a car quickly without the concern of being bitten by a frightened dog or accidentally allowing a loose dog into traffic.
Wherever your travels take you this year, we hope that you and your best friend do so safely and happily.