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Keeping Your Pets Safe When Traveling by Car
Wondering what’s the safest way to get your dog or cat from A to B? With so many products on the market it’s no wonder most of us are confused when it comes to safe travel. Nadia Crighton looks at the safest ways to transport your pet.
Our pets are family and like all members of the family, staying safe while in the car is of the upmost importance. Sadly, many pet owners forget the cold hard facts when it comes to car travel and what can happen to an unrestrained pet or travel crate during an accident.
Nobody likes to think of the possibility of our pets ending up severely injured during an unavoidable crash. However, if you choose not to correctly restrain your pet, you are running the risk of causing grave injury and even death if you were to be involved in a car accident. Holding onto a pet during travel or allowing your dog to seat jump is not a safe option for anyone in the car.
FACT: If your car comes to a sudden stop at 100km per hour, it is important to understand that everything in the car that is unrestrained will continue to travel at 100km per hour. Sending apples, water bottles, tissue boxes smashing into seats, occupants and windows at a freakily fast pace. Ensuring your pet is not one of these projectiles will not only help save the life of your four-legged companion, it may also save your life, or the life of one of the car’s occupants.
Now we’ve gotten all the hard-line facts out of the way, what is the best way to restrain your pets?
- For Giant dogs, like Great Danes, the safest place is restrained to the backseat or in a specially designed boot cage (if you have a SUV). Many SUV’s come with anchor points in the boot you can safely attach your dog to with a harness-like restraint.
- Using a harness can help prevent tangling. Teaching your large dog right from puppyhood that the boot is a place you lie down on your bed and stay still is paramount. Pop their bed in the boot to make the journey more comfortable. You can install a boot barrier that can stop your dog from coming over the backseats during a sudden stop (or if one of the kids opens a bag of chips!). If you teach Rover to be restrained in the boot (with a harness) and lie down during a car ride, it will help prevent injury.
- Cages can also help keep your pet safe in the boot area of a SUV or larger car. These crates or cages can provide comfort and security to your dog during travel.
- If you do not have a larger car, consider using a backseat hammock that attaches to the front headrests and back headrests and creates a barrier between the front seat the backseat. These products also allow your dog to have more room as they cover the foot-well, making a hammock out of the entire back seat. Then clip a hardy harness on your dog and secure them to the backseat seatbelt. It is vital the harness fits correctly and is secured to the belt. Some harnesses even come with their own seatbelt click point. It is important to use a harness design and not a collar. If you attach a lead to a collar and secure this to your seatbelts, during impact the full force will be felt on your dog’s neck area.
- Backseat barriers are also a good idea for pet owners with sedans or smaller vehicles. These attachments stop dogs from coming into the front area by creating a barrier between the front and backseat. However, it is still advisable to use a harness car restraint which is attached to the seatbelt.
- Car seats for smaller dogs are also very good at restraining your pet. However, if the seat is fully enclosed, ensure it is correctly tethered to the seat. If the seat is not enclosed it is vital you tether your dog to the seat to prevent your precious pup from becoming a projectile.
- With travel crates, tethering these to an anchor point in the boot or securing them to the seat with a seatbelt is advisable.
Cats should always be kept in their travel crates which should also be securely tethered to an anchor point or seatbelt in the car. Never travel with a cat on your lap or holding the crate with your hands. Do not place the travel crate in the front seat as the danger from airbags is significant.