Do you ever take your pet for a ride in your car? Sure you do—even cats are driven to the veterinarian or the groomer or to a new home when you move across town or across the states. Heck, our cats had to endure a car ride a few weeks ago when we evacuated during that awful fire that lapped at our backdoor here in Ojai, CA.
While some cats and most dogs enjoy a car ride, for some cats and a few dogs, it can be downright frightening. I once had a dog who got car sick. He was not a happy traveler. And the driver and passengers who must accompany an unhappy cat or a puking dog on a car ride find it stressful, at the least. But the real horror occurs when there’s an accident and the pet is not securely strapped or crated in the car. Not only is there the risk of serious injury or death, the animal might (and often does) run away from the chaos and either get hit by another car, lost, or he hides someplace and dies of the original injuries from the accident. Sounds grim, I know. But it certainly happens.
Today is National Pet Travel Safety Day. I found an article I’d like to share written by a former EMT-medic in Southern California where, she says, she’s seen many incidents where an inexpensive harness or a crate could have saved a pet’s life.
Have you ever thought about the danger to your dog when he sticks his head out the car window while riding at high-speed along a roadway or freeway? Sure, the dog looks happy as he rides along with the wind in his face. I’ve always wondered what the dog is thinking about. The expression on his face resembles pure bliss. However, his joy can be seriously interrupted by road debris—you know, like the kind that can chip your windshield. He can be injured by cars swerving too close to you. And what about when a motorcyclist splits the lanes, as they do on the busy freeways in Southern California?
If you commonly take your dog for rides in the car or in the back of your truck, and if your cat enjoys riding in the car or you need to drive her somewhere even occasionally, here’s an article I highly recommend that you read. http://www.pettravelsafetyday.com/index2.htm
Learn the best way to secure a pet in the car. For a cat, she recommends a safety hammock. She suggests that the dog be able to sit near an open window, but be restrained so that he can’t hang outside it. She says that at the very least, a cat should be crated and a dog on a leash and secured to the seat belt.
She also gives some good ideas for preparing a pet for travel. For a nervous dog, for example, making sure he gets some exercise before the ride might help to calm his nerves. For a cat, bring along her favorite toy. If catnip mellows her, sprinkle a little in the pen. Another idea that may help you to load your cat into a carrier the next time it’s necessary to crate her is to leave her carrier in the house and let her get used to it. Feed her in there, for example.
If you ever take your pets in the car, I sincerely hope you will read this article and consider some of my suggestions, too. If you don’t already, begin to take precautions to protect your precious pet cargo in the future.
I’d love to hear how you deal with pets who must travel. Have you ever had an accident with a pet in the car? Leave your comments here.