By Rachael Workman
It’s that time of year again – the holidays – when you have to hit the road and visit all the relatives you haven’t seen since the required Christmas visit last year. Only now, you have a new dog or cat. So what do you do? Well, bring them along of course! It’s one of the greatest parts of hitting the road. You brink the most important members of your family: your pets.
Now, you may love turning up the tunes and hitting the open road, but it here are some ways you can make it easier on your furry friend who doesn’t get to ride shotgun all the time.
Pets are just like people, and they have their own “peeves.” While my dog can’t stand 4th of July fireworks, he doesn’t mind riding around in the car. The rule of thumb is finding out what bothers your pets and what comforts them so you know how to handle unforeseen situations, especially on the road. Check out these tips to make it a fun vacation for you and your furry pals.
Getting Ready & Packing
Packing up for a road trip can make some animals nervous, dogs in particular. Unless they are used to going places with you all the time, they will see your gathering of essential items as a threat – read: like you’re leavin’ them alone! If your dog exhibits nervous behavior while you’re getting ready for a trip, include her in the packing process. Take a play break to let her know things aren’t changing between you. Put on her leash so she knows she’s coming, too.
In the Car
Cars can be as dangerous for animals as they are for small children. So we need to take some common sense safety precautions.
- Never put your animals in the rear cargo area of an SUV or wagon. Let your luggage take the brunt of a rear collision, not your animals.
- Do not allow your pets to roam free in your car. If you get into awreck, even one that’s not serious, your pet can be killed by being thrown in the cabin and can injure passengers in the process.
- Dogs should not be close to an airbag, as the heat and pressure can be deadly, especially for small dogs that like to ride in your lap.
- Always secure a dog in a safety harness in the backseat. Cats should stay in a carrier, also in the backseat, secured with the seatbelt.
- Try not to feed your pet right before getting in the car to avoid carsickness and excessive bathroom breaks. (learned that one the hard way)
- Always give your dog or cat the option for a drink of water when you do stop.
CBS Insider’s tip: A great pet store that I like to use for many of my dog’s needs, where you can find car harnesses at reasonable prices is Pet Supplies Plus. With several locationsaround Connecticut, you can check their website for more locations.
Pet Supplies Plus
1870 Post Rd East
Hours: Mon to Fri – 9 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sat 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sun 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Adjusting to a New Place & Stresses
When you arrive at your destination – you may feel right at home, but your animal may be un comfortable until they know it’s safe. Don’t drop off your pets and run to the beach. Allow your dog time to roam around and sniff with you there. Show your cat where you’re putting his litter box. If your animal seems nervous, play with their favorite toy or hand him a treat near the food and water dishes so she knows it belongs there. Don’t leave your pet alone until you think your cat or dog feels safe. If your dog is particularly sensitive to noises, be sure to talk to your vet for recommendations to keep her calm during events like fireworks that could make her panic.
Safety and Protection
Always make sure your pets’ vaccinations are current. You never know that status of other people’s animals, especially when you’re out of town. You wouldn’t want your animal to contract an illness from someone else’s pet. Never let your dog or cat run naked; always keep her collar with an ID on and never let them roam free. Even if your dog is exceptionally well trained “off leash,” your dog is at risk in a new place. There may be aggressive dogs in the area, distractions or other threats that you don’t expect. Keeping your animal inside or leashed is always your best bet.
Rachael Workman is a local Connecticut blogger who can often be found driving or walking on local roads with her dog, Mason Dixon. You can read her blog at www.rachaelontheroad.com.