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Car safety tips for traveling with your pets

Summertime is the perfect time of year for road trips, but if you’ve got furry friends, you’ve got a tough choice—do you board them while you’re away, or do you bring them with you? If you choose to bring your furry family members along, how can you keep them safe in the car? Let’s look at some simple do’s and don’ts to help you keep all your fur babies safe during your travels.

Do—Start small

If your dog isn’t comfortable with car rides, the best option is to start with small trips. Take them with you to the grocery store—as long as you have someone else to stay with them while you’re inside—or just drive around the neighborhood to get them used to being in the car. If they won’t stay in the backseat, this is also a great time to get them accustomed to any puppy restraints or seatbelts you’re planning to use during your trip.

Don’t—Leave your pet in a hot car

This should be common sense, but it happens so often that it bears repeating. Don’t leave your dog in a car that isn’t running. If it’s 95 degrees outside—which is a distinct possibility in many areas of the country during the summer—after an hour, it can be upwards of 140 degrees in your car.

In dogs, as in humans, body temperatures above 106 can cause heatstroke and can lead to organ failure and death in our furry family members. Don’t leave them in the car, period. Here are some ways to avoid risky situations involving pets and hot cars.

Do—Keep your pet secure

Always keep pets secure in the back seat of your car. You have to wear your seatbelt to protect you in the event of an accident—you should do the same for your pets. Not only does it protect them if you get into an accident, it keeps them from ending up in the front seat or underfoot where their presence could lead to an accident. It’s tempting to keep your pet in the front seat with you, especially if they’re anxious about being in the car, but they’re safer and you’re safer if they stay in the backseat.

Don’t—Roll down the windows all the way

The image of a dog cruising down the highway with their head hanging out the window is iconic, but it isn’t safe. Even if you only have the window rolled down enough that they can stick their head out, that means your dog isn’t secure, and they could potentially jump out the window and get injured or killed by other cars.

Keep your windows rolled up and the air conditioner blasting. They’ll be more comfortable and safer in the long run.

Do—Update microchip info and registration

Anxious pets are liable to run the first chance they get, and the last thing you want to do is lose your pet when you’re a thousand miles from home. Before you leave the house, make sure your dog’s microchip and tags have the most up-to-date information possible—cellphone numbers, home address, and the like. Keep their tags on their collars and ensure they’re wearing their collars or harnesses constantly while you’re away from home.

If your dog doesn’t already have a microchip implanted, schedule a trip to the vet and ensure all your information is up to date before you head out on your trip.

Don’t—Transport pets in a truck bed

Big dogs might take up a lot of space in your car, but that’s where they belong. Don’t transport your dog—or any other pet—in the bed of a truck. American Humane estimates upwards of 100,000 dogs die every year because they were riding—either secured or unsecured—in the bed of a truck.

Secure any pets in kennels—dogs, cats, even small pocket pets like hamsters and guinea pigs—inside the vehicle with you.

Do—Have fun!

The whole point of bringing your furry family members with you is to make sure you—and they—have fun. Plan your trip around fun, pet-friendly activities, so you and your fur babies can both enjoy the journey. Don’t forget to take plenty of breaks so they can run around and use the bathroom—depending on your dog, that may be more frequent than your bathroom breaks, but you need to ensure your pets are comfortable and happy throughout your trip.

Driving with your pets doesn’t have to be a hassle. It’s a fantastic way to bond with and spend quality time with your pets, as long as you take some precautions to keep them safe.