Saturday 21 September 2019

How to avoid a ruff ride while driving with pets

Before you go anywhere with a pet in tow, there are some things you should consider, writes Geraldine Herbert

For dogs, sturdy safety harnesses are widely available
For dogs, sturdy safety harnesses are widely available

For the safety of people and pets, animals should be restrained in the car. Never let a pet travel in the front because it could be seriously injured or killed, just as a small child, if an airbag deploys. Also it is never a good idea to put a pet in the boot.

Cats are best placed in a lined carrier along with a tasty food treat. On longer trips, take a litter tray, toys and a damp blanket draped partially over the carrier to provide coolness and security.

When choosing a carrier for your pet, select one that has enough room for your animal to lie and sit down in, but is not large enough for your pet to be tossed around. It is also a good idea to get your pet used to the carrier before the journey by taking it on short drives beforehand.

For dogs, sturdy safety harnesses are widely available, which attach to existing seat belt fittings. Smaller dogs may feel more secure in a travel crate lined with a blanket and a trusty chew toy.

What are my options?

Travel Cage or crate: These secure with a seatbelt, or attach to anchorage points and can be useful when you arrive at your destination.

Harness - This is recommended for medium to large dogs while travelling. The harness should go around the dog's chest, back, and shoulders and be attached to the seatbelt. As the dog is not confined, it is a pleasant way for the dog to travel.

Car Grid: With this option your dog is free to move around but you need to be careful when opening doors as the dog is loose in the back.

Back Seat Barrier: This confines your dog to the back-seat area and is a good option for larger dogs but won't always protect the animal in a crash.

Pet Carrier: For smaller dogs, cats and other pets.

Tips for travelling:

• Water and fresh air are vital, especially during the summer. Cats and dogs overheat very quickly in cars. Even in cool weather, the interior of a car can become very hot. Fresh water and regular comfort stops are a must.

• Pets on the move will appreciate familiar comforts, such as their regular bedding and their usual food. Also pack their water dishes, bedding, litter and litter box, leash, collar and tag, grooming supplies and a first-aid kit with any necessary medication.

• Be sure to always park your car in a shaded area to keep the car cool. Never leave your pet alone inside a car, even for a few minutes. Bring someone with you on the trip to take meal shifts, so your furry family member can stay in your air-conditioned car

• Plan ahead where to stop and where to stay. Information on pet-friendly establishments can easily be found online.

• Travelling can sometimes be upsetting for your pet's stomach, so take a cooler with ice cubes, as they are easier on your pet than large amounts of water. Also keep feeding to a minimum.

• Do not allow your pet to stick their head outside the car. They can be injured from debris or become ill from having the cold air forced down their lungs.

• In the event of a breakdown, keep your pet in the car if at all possible to prevent them running out into traffic.

Sunday Independent

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