With all of the concessions made by hotels and other businesses for their customers' furry companions, it's easy to make pets a part of the family. In fact, about two-thirds of American motorists drive with their pets, whether on vacation or a trip to the store, according to a September 2011 survey by insurance company The Hartford and the American Kennel Club (AKC).
But when it comes to taking a pet on the road, some pet owners buckle themselves in without taking the same precautions for their pets. Auto insurance (depending on your coverage) might cover your injuries but, chances are, it would not cover vet bills. So it's vital to keep your pets safe while they're along for the ride.
The AKC suggests doing the following:
- Secure and restrain your pet. If a car crashes at 35 miles per hour, a 60-pound animal would become a 2,700-pound flying projectile, according to pet safety advocacy group Bark Buckle Up. Moreover, after an accident, an unrestrained pet might get in the way of emergency workers or even cause more accidents if it gets loose. A crate is the best option for keeping your pet safe, but a variety of pet supply companies also sell pet harnesses, which act like seat belts.
- Take breaks. Traveling with animals for too long at one stretch can cause pets to become agitated, which make them more distracting to the driver.
- Keep windows closed. Pets can sustain ear and eye injuries by sticking their heads out of windows. They might even jump out of your moving vehicle. Edmunds.com also cautions drivers against letting pets ride in pickup truck beds. If you have no other choice, Edmunds recommends putting the dog in a crate -- and tying that crate down.
- Make sure your pet has ID. Pets might flee the scene of the accident in a panic. Collar tags and microchips could be instrumental in making sure they return home. If your pet travels in a crate, be sure to label the crate with your contact information as well as that of an emergency contact in case you're unable to care for your pet.
- Dog-proof your car. Make sure anything chewable (small toys, shoes and coins) are cleared out. These items can be choking hazards and, left to its own devices in the back seat, your dog will find them.