Pets are a big part of many families. More than 63 million households own a dog. That means, as the holidays approach, many dogs will be going on road trips. Depending on where you travel, allowing your dog to sit on your lap while driving may be illegal. Some states consider this a form of distracted driving and require pets to be in proper car restraints.
While you and your family may enjoy Fido moving around the car, showing their affection and excitement, this can be very dangerous. A sudden stop or accident with another vehicle can send them flying. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a driver should be at least 10 inches away from the center of an airbag to help prevent injury from the airbag itself. If your pet is on your lap, you’ll likely both be injured.
Before you head out on holiday travel, consider these different options for restraining your dog and additional safety tips.1. Use an adequate-sized crate or carrier. If you have a van or SUV, a pet crate or carrier is an excellent option. Your pet and the carrier can be loaded through the tailgate. In addition, the carrier will sit on a relatively flat surface, which can be secured. Make sure your carrier is the right size to allow your pet to stand, sit, turn around, and lie down.
2. Consider other options. If a pet carrier doesn’t fit in your vehicle, consider other options to restrain your pet. The restraint that will work best for you depends on the size of your dog.
3. Pull out the shades. This may not be as much of an issue during the winter months, but if the sun is shining in on your pet, it may make them uncomfortable.
4. Practice. If you welcomed a new dog into your family, consider taking it for a test drive. Never assume your new pet enjoys car rides. Watch for signs of anxiousness and car sickness.
5. Allow plenty of travel time. If you have a long drive ahead, allow for pit stops along the way. The American Veterinary Association recommends a stop every two to three hours.
6. Do your research. If your travel requires an overnight stay at a hotel, make sure you know ahead of time if they accept pets. You should never leave your pet alone in a car.
7. Take plenty of water. Make sure you and your family, as well as your pet, stay hydrated. Avoid giving your pet tap water on the trip, as this may upset its stomach.
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