Driving Safely With Your Pet

Who doesn’t love a good car ride? Well maybe our cats don’t, but most dogs are happy to ride along with us wherever we go. Whether it be a short trip to the pet store or a long road trip on holidays, one should take into consideration the hazards of driving with your dogs and cats.

There are a variety of products out there to keep your dog safe while in the car. If your dog is anything like mine who likes to say hello to every animal and small child, we drive by from the closest window possible, even if that means her full 80 lbs. is in my lap, while I’m trying to drive, keeping them confined to their seat is best for everyone.

If your dog rides in the front or back seat of the car, a car harness and seat belt are a great option. This will prevent them from jumping into your lap, blocking your view if they jump up and help keep them safe in the event of an accident. The harness you use in the car should be a car specific harness and also be crash tested.

These harnesses tend to be more padded with a greater surface area as to reduce the amount of pressure put on anyone spot if you stop fast and the dog is jerked forward. They are also built stronger. Make sure that the harness properly fits your dog so that they can comfortably stand, sit and lay down while wearing it. For small breed dogs, a booster seat may also be useful. They provide a comfy seat to clip your dog into while still allowing them to see out the windows safely.

In addition to a harness, you can also purchase a backseat barrier that connects between the two front seats to discourage your dog from trying to jump into the front seat. They usually have pockets on them where you can tuck dog supplies such as a water bottle or poop bags. If you have a vehicle in which the dog rides in the back cargo space a cargo barrier is ideal to ensure that they stay within that space. Most are adjustable to fit a variety of vehicles and can easily be removed if need be.

Ideally, whenever your cat leaves your house with you, it should be in a cat carrier. As cats rarely leave their homes going in the car can be quite a stressful event. New sights, smells and the motion of the vehicle can be enough to make the happiest cat at home become a fractious cat once they get to their destination. If they are confined within their cat carrier, even if they don’t like being in the carrier, it will make the entire experience less stressful.

Ensure that the cat carrier is buckled into a seat belt in the car to prevent it from sliding about during the drive. If your cat is able to free roam the vehicle there is a chance that they can become a distraction while driving. Their cuteness while in the car may be distracting but also if they are spooked by something they may run and hide under your feet getting in the way of your brake which may cause an accident when you need to break and are unable to. With your cat safely within the carrier, there is also no risk of them jumping up on the dashboard and blocking your view of the road ahead.

So jump into the car, buckle everyone in, roll the windows down and go for a springtime drive!

Written by Nicki Payne, RAHT