Many of our clients and staff, myself included, enjoy traveling with our dogs or cats. Some only go across town while others, like myself, have traveled across most of the United States. One thing is common whether you travel 5 miles or 500; you want your beloved pet to arrive safe and sound.
No one plans for an accident, but the truth is we should. By being proactive we can ensure that our pets are taken care of if we are unable to communicate our wishes to those who might come to our rescue.
Here is a list of some things that can help you make sure that, in the event of an emergency, your best friends will be well cared for:
- Written information in your vehicle about each of your pets that are traveling with you. This should include a photo and physical description of them, their names and microchip numbers, proof of vaccination, any medical information or medications that they are on and feeding instruction (what they eat and how much). If it is necessary for emergency workers to call animal control or place them into a boarding facility, they will know what needs they have.
- Have in writing what your wishes are if any of them need emergency medical care. This should include the name and phone number of your veterinarian and that of a contact person to authorize medical treatment and make financial arrangements.
- Make sure your pets each have a collar with tags that readily identify them and how to get a hold of you or a designated contact person in the event they escape the accident scene. Dogs and cats can travel great distances if frightened. Microchips and GPS trackers are also good additions that help with being reunited.
Another important component of traveling with your pet is making sure that they are secured in your vehicle. A dog who is jumping around from seat to seat or riding on the driver’s lap is much more likely to cause an accident or be seriously injured than a dog riding in a seat harness or dog crate. Loose pets in cars are also more likely to escape the scene of an accident and get lost or hit by other vehicles in their attempt to flee the scene. They can also act as a projectile object in a sudden deceleration and can be killed or kill a passenger if they are thrown forward in the vehicle.
So what are some safe options for securing your pet in your car?
The best solution for most cats and dogs is an appropriately sized crate. Appropriate size means that your pet can stand up in it and turn around to lie back down.
For cats the best option is a cat carrier that is strapped in with a seat belt. This same approach can be used with smaller dogs.
There are several options available for traveling with your dog. For short trips around town, for example to the vet, a car seat with a secure harness might be enough for most small to medium-sized dogs. For larger dogs, the harness can serve the same purpose.
Another alternative is to use a “Pet barrier”. These devices come in many different types and can range considerably in price.
If your dog is unruly in the car and your car is big enough, or if you plan to travel a lot across country, a crate is probably your best option. They will allow your dog to rest, relax and sleep while you do all the work.
Dog crates vary in their quality and sturdiness so do your research to find the one that fits your budget and provides you and your dog the level of security you want to have. There are several brands on the market that have been proven to withstand large amounts of “trauma” without breaking or allowing for the escape of the pet inside.
Pet auto safety.com is a good web site for information/articles on traveling safely with your pet. Check it out at http://www.petautosafety.com for more information on crates, car barriers and dog seat belts as well as other helpful pet travel articles.
Happy and safe travels to you and your furry friends,