The website Mom It Forward posted a great piece recently on the dos & don’ts of driving with pets in the car. They say,
If you consider your pet to be a part of the family and you want to take it on the road, you’re not alone. According to a survey by AAA, more than half of dog owners have driven with their dog in tow. However, pet safety while driving is often overlooked. While a car trip can certainly promote bonding with your dog, cat, hamster or other critter, it can also create a distraction.
They offer 4 great tips for taking your animal friend along for a ride:
1. Keep Your Pet Off Your Lap
More than 20 percent of drivers in the AAA survey responded that they had allowed their dogs to sit in their laps while they were driving. A pet in your lap can block your vision or keep you from reacting quickly if you suddenly need to brake. Sitting in your lap–or anywhere in the front seat–could be dangerous for your pet too. The back seat is where your pet will be the safest since it’s the part of the car where you’re least prone to injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
2. Use a Carrier or Restraint
No matter how well-behaved your pet may be, never let it roam free in your car. If you get into a crash, your pet can be thrown from the car, or into you, with tremendous force.
According to AAA, if an unrestrained 10-pound dog that’s thrown in a crash at a mere 30 miles per hour lands on you, it could feel like 300 pounds of pressure crashing into you.
Depending on where you live, failure to restrain your pets can also cost you. The state of New Jersey, for example, has passed a law ticketing drivers whose pets are in the car unrestrained, with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
3. Keep All Pets Inside of the Car
Chances are you’ve seen a car driving down the road with a dog’s head hanging out the window. In such a case that dog is in jeopardy of getting hurt by rocks, twigs, and other flying objects. To limit your pup’s outdoor access, AAA recommends using the air conditioner rather than rolling down the windows on hot days.
4. Take Care of Your Pet’s Needs
If you’re going on a long road trip, prepare to stop every couple of hours to give your pets a break and, if needed, a chance to relieve themselves. If you have a cat, bring your litter box along. Also make sure your pet has water if you’ll be traveling for an extended period of time. While you’re taking a break, don’t leave your pet alone in a parked car. Hot temperatures cause heat stroke and cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia.