Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Creating a Healthy Relationship Between Your Pet and Your Car

Our pets. We love them. They’re apart of our family. In fact, in many cases we treat them better than certain human members of our families and we’re perfectly fine with that. So with this extreme love for our pets, is there any wonder that we want them with us at all times, including on road trips? The question is how do we keep both our two and four legged family members safe and comfortable while taking a trip. 

Short trips to the store or to complete other errands may be perfectly fine for your pet, but it’s the longer road trips that have the potential for trouble. As a pet owner, you should be fully aware of your pets travel tendencies and plan accordingly for long trips.

Yes, animals can experience motion sickness or stress from being in a moving vehicle, resulting in vomiting or other accidents in the car. Animals experiencing travel anxiety may attempt to jump into the front seat with you in search of comfort.  This can cause a distraction, which could potentially lead to an accident. 

The best thing owners can do in order to avoid problems on longer trips is to acclimate their pets to traveling in a car. The ASPCA recommends you do this using a number of steps. First, let your pet sit inside of your parked car to get used the environment.  Then gradually progress to short trips around the neighborhood, being sure to pay special attention to how your pet reacts to being inside a car.

As a pet acclimates to longer trips, vary the route and subject pets to different sights, sounds and smells. Animals that are particularly skittish or simply do not do well in the car should not be forced to make road trips. Veterinarians can prescribe tranquilizers or motion sickness medication to make car rides tolerable.

Keep the temperature cool and open the window to allow fresh air to flow in for maximum pet comfort. Do not let your pet hang his or her head out of the window. This could lead to injury of your pet’s eyes or ears or your pet may be tempted to jump out while the car is moving.

When traveling, properly secure your pet to prevent injury to drivers, their passengers and even the pet itself. If a dog or cat finds comfort in a crate, use that during the ride. Otherwise, dog seatbelts and other restraint systems are very helpful. The safest place for pets to travel is in the back seat where they are also less likely to distract drivers. Though tough, drivers should resist the urge to have small pets sit on their lap while driving. Should an accident happen, a deployed airbag could injure or kill a pet that's sitting on a driver's lap.

Reward your pet for surviving a long trip by choosing a final destination that is fun for them. If you only put the cat or dog in the car to go to the vet or groomer, your pet may begin to associate the car with bad experiences and never truly adapt to trips in the car.

Remember, the ultimate goal is an enjoyable trip for everyone.  Though it may take a little time, preparing your pet for the road is very beneficial. So go ahead and take the steps for a better road trip for you and every member of your family, even the human ones.

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