It’s hard to imagine many things more purely joyful than seeing a dog eagerly watch the world go by through a car window. While you probably know all the ways to keep your human passengers as safe and sound, do you know the best ways to protect your pet? Check out these essential tips before you next hit the road with Fluffy or Fido.
- Know your state’s laws. Every state is different when it comes to legal issues around transporting pets in vehicles. Police in New Jersey, for example, can stop and fine drivers up to $1,000 if they feel they’re improperly transporting animals. Hawaii law states that drivers can’t have dogs in their laps, and at least 14 states and additional local jurisdictions have made it illegal to leave animals in cars unattended. Finally, no matter where you live, laws in almost every state indicate that if a pet causes you to crash your car, it will be considered a distracted driving violation. So before you bring your furry friend in the car, brush up on the potential legal pitfalls.
- Get the right crate or carrier. Kitties and other creatures that aren’t used to the great outdoors will probably feel more comfortable in a cozy carrier. While there are countless options when it comes to pet carriers, you want to make sure you purchase one that’s big enough for your pet to comfortably move around in, meaning they can sit, stand, recline, and turn. One way to reduce the chance of on-the-road freakouts is to allow your pet to get familiar with the crate or carrier at home, before it makes its debut in the car.
- Consider a seatbelt. Yes, seriously! If your pup is prone to scoping out the scenery and/or is way too big to be confined to a carrier, then you may want to make sure they buckle up. You can order special crash-tested harnesses online for a variety of animal sizes, but make sure you read up on which breeds are best suited for which belts.
- Bring the essentials. Just like humans need adequate hydration, snacks, and safety supplies, pets deserve their own pack of must-haves. Always remember to bring food, a bowl, any necessary medication, a pet first-aid kit, waste scoop and plastic baggies, and maybe a special toy to soothe homesickness.
- Keep them close by. It’s just not a good idea to ever leave your pet alone in a parked car. Even if you leave the windows open, your vehicle can heat up on a hot day and put your animal in danger of heatstroke. On the opposite end of the spectrum, freezing cold temperatures can threaten your pet as well. If you have to hop out for a quick errand, it’s always best to take your pet with you.
- Turn off your power windows. You want to minimize as many hazards as possible when you have an animal in the vehicle, and while it seems unlikely, it’s not unreasonable for a smaller pet to press the power window button and jump from the moving car. It’s also a slim but real possibility for the window to automatically close on their necks. So avoid the potential danger completely and disable your power windows before taking your pet on the road.
- Stop often. If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll want to keep your pets needs in mind. Just like you need to make pit stops, your pet does too, and may need to make them more frequently. Schedule in regular bathroom breaks, meal times, and exercise sessions. And when you’re behind the wheel, make sure your pet always has easy access to water.
Looking for more travel tips for you and your human passengers? Check out the Metromile blog for everything from insurance FAQs to budget advice and more. Happy travels!