Some pets do better in vehicles than others. There are road dogs who love to hop into the car, tails wagging in anticipation of a trip to the lake or the dog park. There are cats who yowl nonstop, convinced that you hate them and put them in this giant moving box out of cruelty. Some pets go straight to sleep like a baby; others get carsick and promptly hurl on the upholstery. No matter how your pet feels about the car, it’s important to learn how to keep them safe and secure during each trip.
Use a Pet Carrier
First things first: Do NOT let your cat or dog roam freely around the vehicle. Any number of bad things could happen. It could jump or fall out of a lowered window, fall and hurt itself, or (most likely) distract you while you’re trying to drive. Can you safely merge on the highway with a freaked out cat clawing your legs or trying to wedge itself under the brake pedal? Prolly not. Put your cat or dog in a travel carrier instead, then secure the carrier in the seat if possible. If you have a really big dog and a kennel doesn’t make sense for traveling short distances, put him or her in the backseat. You can also check out pet seat belts and special car partitions.
Don’t Leave Pets Alone in Vehicles
If you make a stop during the trip, DON’T leave your pet alone in the vehicle. Temperatures rise quickly in parked vehicles, and an animal could die of overheating. It doesn’t matter if you’ll just be gone for a few minutes, if it’s “not that hot” outside, or if you leave the windows cracked. Don’t risk it. You don’t want to come back to your car and find that a police officer has smashed the window to save your dog (Yes, that can happen.) or worse. Take your furry friend out of the car for a little fresh air and give them a bowl of water instead. Everyone needs a pit stop once in awhile.
Dogs in Pickup Trucks
Trucks and dogs are some of the best parts of life (and country songs), but think before you mix the two. It’s not cool to drive around with your dog loose in the back of a pickup truck. Your dog could jump out or get hurt, especially if you’re involved in a crash. Use a harness and leash to secure that pupper inside the cab instead. The American Humane Association advises drivers not to put dogs in truck beds at all – even if the vehicle is parked. The dog could jump out and get lost or get stuck hanging on its leash. There is no protection from the elements in the bed of a pickup truck, so the dog could get too cold or hot on the metal surface.