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Road Trip!

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Leashes jingling in her hand, she trills out, “Who wants to go with ME?” Dogs bounce and bark, “I wanna go. Me me me. Let’s go go go in the car!”

We all like taking our pets with us on either daily errands or longer road trips, and most of the dogs seem to like it too. Here are some important safety tips about car travel with your pet.

Every pet needs to be restrained in some manner. You wear a seat belt — they should wear a seat belt and harness or be confined to a crate. It’s dangerous for them to sit on your lap and “help” you drive. If they are not restrained, they can become a projectile in an accident — and possibly escape and be lost or harmed. At the very least a vehicle barrier can keep them in the back seat or rear cargo area, but it won’t protect them in a crash.

Never leave your pets in a hot car. Even on a moderately warm day, a closed car can overheat too fast. At dog shows, many competitors kennel their dogs in the car between competitions. You’ll see the cars with fully open windows and hatchbacks, draped in reflective mesh blankets with battery powered fans keeping a breeze going through the vehicle.

Choose a crate for the car wisely. Plastic crates — also known as airline crates — tend to be more protective in a crash than wire crates, but they have less ventilation than wire crates. Popup, or soft crates, offer no crash protection and a determined dog can chew through a soft crate. The soft crates are good for hotel rooms when you are there, or camping.

There are hotels that accept pets. Check in advance and confirm before your trip that your pet will be welcome. Then, be a responsible pet owner, cover the hotel’s bedding with your own sheet that you’ve brought along, don’t leave your dog alone and uncrated in the hotel room, walk them in designated areas, and be sure to pick up after your dog. It’s also courteous not to groom or bathe your dog in the hotel.

Pack for your pet — extra collar, lead, food and water bowls, plenty of food, bottled water, poop bags, and some old towels.

Check with the friendly folks at your local independent pet store for travel gear and more tips!