Summertime often brings road trips and travel to people in West Michigan. And whether it’s a short jaunt to the beach, the park or taking a longer distance trip to a vacation destination, many people are opting to take their pooch with them in lieu of leaving them home alone. Before you bring man’s best friend along for the ride, check out these ways to keep your pet safer in the car.


It Starts With You

The best way to keep your pet safe while you are driving might come as a surprise but it ultimately begins with you as a driver. We all realize how detrimental distracted driving is to the safety of everyone on the road but frequently, drivers fail to comprehend how distracting some things may be in a vehicle, including their beloved pet. Particularly when they are sitting on your lap while you are driving. Commit to lessening your distractions by never driving with your dog on your lap, regardless of how long you have been doing so in the past. Not only is it a danger to you and your pup, but to others who are sharing the road.


Buckle Them Up

There’s a reason why there are seatbelt laws for people… seatbelts work! Pet who are involved in vehicular accidents without being restrained greatly run the risk of suffering serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, severe trauma and even death. They also run the risk of becoming a missile launched towards you in the event of a collision. Even at speeds as low as 25mph, an unrestrained pet can be launched forward at a force equal to 40 times its weight! Additionally, pets can become disoriented and afraid after a collision and run away from the scene of the crash.  Not only does this increase their chance of becoming lost in an unknown area, but it also prevents them from receiving medical attention that might be needed as quickly as they should.

Do your beloved pet and yourself a favor by finding a safe method to restrain them while inside the vehicle every time. There are many ways to keep your pet safely restrained in a moving car, van, truck or SUV.  Be sure to find the one that works best for you and your pet.  A crate that has been safely secured to avoid shifting or sliding is one way to keep your pet safe.  It should be large enough for your pet to sit, stand, turn around or lie down while riding inside.  A similar option for smaller dogs under 20 pounds or cats would be a pet carrier or a pet seat.  These devices can be secured by a seatbelt to keep them safe and an added bonus is they can be used as a carrier when you reach your destination.  Likewise, a harness designed and approved to be used in vehicles, used in tandem with a pet seat belt, can keep them safe.  Just use caution when purchasing them as there are no government standards or testing in place to regulate their safety.


Plan Your Feedings

Not every pet loves riding in a vehicle and even those that do may experience motion sickness if they begin the trip with a full belly. It can also lead to unpleasant bathroom accidents on your upholstery. But feeding Fido 3-4 hours before you intend to travel can help lessen the chance of them becoming nauseated and vomiting inside the vehicle or having an accident either out of fear or sheer necessity.


Be Prepared

Whether it’s a long trip to another state or short cruise to somewhere local in Grand Rapids, it’s important to be prepared. Be sure to pack a leash if they are traveling in a safety harness or crate inside the vehicle and water if you plan on being gone for any significant time period. For longer trips, it’s important to bring along some staples to keep them happy and safe. These should include a bowl, bottled water, food, a favorite toy to chew or play with on the way and a pillow or blanket to make them feel more secure. Also, it’s important to plan out any stops you’ll need to make along the way and if your pet will be allowed to join you inside any store or restaurant. Play it smart and avoid any risk to your beloved pet by foregoing leaving them unattended, even for short periods of time.



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