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Car Travel with your Dog

Safe Car Travel
Preparing for a trip away with your dog can be quite challenging but the rewards and enjoyment you both gain are great. Here are some tips that I hope you find useful on your next car journey with your dog.

It is important to look at a number of things when travelling with a dog in the car. Safety is the first priority, both for passengers and pets. Don't leave a dog un-restrained in the vehicle, even the best-behaved dogs can be frightened or surprised by things passing them while they are in the car, which could cause your dog to jump around and distract the driver. This is obviously an extremely dangerous situation for all concerned and for other road users. Restrain the dog with a car harness, crate or barrier. It only takes a collision or sudden braking to cause the dog to injure itself and/or someone in the car. In an extreme situation the dog could escape from the vehicle, with consequences no-one wants to contemplate. Your attention should be on the road, not on your dog. "At 30mph, for example, a 50lb border collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to nine 12-stone men - enough to kill a driver or passenger." (Source: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)

There are harnesses on the market which clip into the existing seat-belt restraint, as well as guards and barriers to fit all makes of car. The clunk-click message is well known for humans, but sadly not always applied to our pets. The harness often which serves as a seatbelt for travel or a lead for walking. Crates are a good idea and can be designed and built to fit your own make and model of car. These can also have removable trays for easy cleaning, you are able to clip water bowls to them and offer extra protection for your pet - particularly with an in-built escape hatch in the event of a rear end collision (I speak from experience)!

Window shades will help deflect the sun's glare and are attached by a convenient suction-cup mounting. Fans fitted to the crate will help circulate air around your pet to keep him cool. Retractable arms will allow the fan to be hung on a cage, crate or pet carrier. Do not leave your dog in a car in warm weather. Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat to cool themselves down and rely instead on panting. This makes them very susceptible to heat stroke and every year many dogs die unnecessarily as a result of being left in hot cars.
It only takes a few minutes for the interior temperature to build up higher than the outside air temperature, especially if direct sunlight bakes the car. Leaving windows open will help but it's very unlikely that there will be sufficient air circulation to prevent heat stroke and ultimately death.

Make sure your dog is wearing a collar, with ID tags for both his home address, and any temporary address you might be using. A microchip is even safer; it can't fall off. Take a leash — and make sure the collar fits well, so there is no chance of escape. Accidents happen to dogs, too. Never allow your dog to travel with its head out of the window - it could be injured by debris, by another vehicle or jump out. Train your dog to remain in the car until you have attached its lead - a dog that jumps out of a car as soon as you open the door could cause a serious accident. Plan breaks for your dog during your journey. Think about parks, rest areas or other places good for a dog to explore and stretch. To ease any fears he might have about travelling, take some familiar things. A few of his favorite toys and blankets often do the trick. Finally, do try not to leave your pet for long periods alone in the car. There are a number of very good reasons for this, not least of all being that the car may be stolen, or the dog taken from the car.
Sadly, it does happen.

Most dogs can overcome motion sickness by desensitizing them. Gradually accustom the dog to spending time in the car with the engine off, then with the engine on, then short trips, building up to longer trips. Prior to a journey be sure the dog has not been fed just before you set off. You can also use anti- sickness medications to help settle the stomach and prevent the sometimes prolific drooling that occurs in a nauseous dog. Ask your vet for advice.

Travel harness

Pet travel harness from
Canine Concepts

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