January 2: Pet Travel Safety Day

pettravelsafetyNational Pet Travel Safety Day was created by Colleen Paige. Besides being a pet and family lifestyle expert, animal advocate, and former EMT-Medic, Paige’s name is associated with several pet calendar days. National Pet Travel Safety Day seeks to educate pet owners about ways to make vehicle travel safer for their pets. Some tips for making sure pets are safe during car travel include:

Get your pets used to travel. To do this, start by acclimating your pets to your car. Follow up with short trips around the block and to fun destinations. Build a positive association by rewarding your well-behaved pets with treats when in the car. Before taking your pets to an actual check-up at the vet, you might first arrange for a casual visit and arm yourself with LOTS of treats.

Remember pets can get carsick. For some pets, exercising them beforehand will help calm them. Other pets might feel more secure if crated. Covering the crate with a dark blanket to create the feeling of a cave might also increase your pet’s sense of safety. You might also use a special treat that you only provide during car trips. Finally, if you suspect the issue is motion sickness, talk to your vet about medication options.

Restrain your pets. The Pet Travel Safety website points out that at just 10 mph, if you must swerve or stop quickly, your pet faces the risk of flying into the dashboard, windshield, or the back of your seat. At the very least, such as action will likely result in bruises, cuts, and broken bones from blunt force trauma. Worse, they could be thrown from your car. Pets can be restrained by use of: pet barrier, booster seat, safety harness, or crate. Even if your pets are restrained, you should never let them stick their head out the window, because they’re still at risk of eye and head injury from road debris.

Don’t have new pets ride with children. The Pet Travel Safety website notes that “many accidents occur when the driver turns around to deal with pets or children while the vehicle is in motion”. For that reason, don’t have young people ride home with a newly adopted pet or a young pet that already is in a heightened state of anxiety. It’s also best not to have pets ride in the same vehicle as overly active children. Either scenario could lead pets to behave in a way that they normally wouldn’t, putting children at possible risk of bite injury.

Prepare for long trips. Make sure you have an abundant supply of essentials such as water, food, pet waste bags or litter box, any needed medications, and a first-aid kit. In addition, bring blankets for warmth in the winter and shade in the summer. Finally, bring a list of pet-friendly accommodations in case your car breaks down.

Ensure your pets have identification. You hope and pray that you never become separated from your pet, but the truth is any pet can bolt. For that reason, make sure your pets are wearing an easily-spotted collar and ID tag as well as a permanent form of identification such as a microchip.

For tips on making sure pets are safe during other types of travel, check out the following articles at the HNGN website:

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