Many pets enjoy a ride in the family car or truck. There are a number of things the pet owner can do to prevent accidents, escapes or injuries.
- Do not let a cat loose in the car — use a pet carrier or box with a tight fitting lid. Cats are quick and if not properly confined, they can easily escape through a window or door or wedge themselves under the seat. A cat roaming inside the car may also distract the driver or get under the feet, impeding the gas or brake pedals, which could cause an accident.
- Keep dogs from jumping around in the car. There are several kinds of safety harnesses that attach to the seat belt to keep the dog sitting in one place. For larger vehicles, dividers that fit over or behind the back seat keep a dog confined to the cargo area. A quick stop or unexpected swerve can be enough to throw a pet across the seat, which could cause bruising or even broken bones.
- Do not let a pet sit on your lap while driving — this is very unsafe. It prevents the driver from reacting quickly in an emergency and may cause serious injury to a pet if the car stops quickly or if the airbag deploys.
- Don’t let dogs hang their head out the window. Many dogs love this but small rocks and other flying debris can contribute to eye injuries and the rushing air can cause the eyes to dry excessively. Also, a close brush with another vehicle, tree, road construction equipment, etc. could cause injury to a dog’s head.
- Never let a dog ride in the back of a pickup truck. Dogs are easily jolted out of open pickups and often suffer crippling injuries or death. Use a protective crate secured to the truck bed or let your pet ride safely in the cab.
- Don’t leave pets in vehicles unattended for any length of time, especially during hot weather! Leaving a dog or cat in a parked car during the warmer months can cause serious injury or death within minutes. Temperatures inside a car can reach 120 degrees very quickly, even with the windows partially open. Shade and water will do little to help. With only hot air to breathe, a dog’s normal process of cooling through panting fails. A body temperature of just 107 degrees may cause brain damage or death from heatstroke.
- Some pets don’t like riding in the car. It could be that these pets only travel to places they don’t particularly enjoy, such as the vet’s office. You may want to try taking your pet on small quick trips so he experiences some fun while riding. When your dog learns that a ride can mean a trip to the park, a special treat or a visit with special people, he may start to look forward to the next trip.
This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.
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