Safety comes first when traveling with pets

Dogs should be properly restrained in vehicles and not allowed to ride with their heads out of the window. The high velocity of wind can damage their respiratory systems over time. Courtesy photo

TEMECULA – A pet’s love is unconditional, so it’s no wonder that pet parents want to keep their beloved animals by their side as much as possible. Pet owners whose pets spend ample time in the car should brush up on some safety precautions to ensure the roadways are safe for all travelers, including those covered in fur.

Driving while distracted is a significant safety concern. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety notes that simply taking one’s eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the chances of being involved in a crash. Recent data from Kurgo, a leading supplier of quality dog travel supplies and accessories for active dogs, found that 60 percent of respondents had driven with pets in the last month, and more than half admitted to being distracted by their pets. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not track how many accidents are attributed to pets, it’s easy to see how pets can be a distraction on the road.

Drivers should never allow their pets to sit on their laps or ride in vehicles unless they are restrained. Doing so puts all passengers, pets and humans alike, in danger. AAA said a 10-pound dog that is not restrained can generate 500 pounds of force in a 50 mile-per-hour crash.

Pet owners can heed these safety guidelines to make trips with their pets less dangerous.

First, recognize that airbags can cause injury. Airbags are designed to protect people, not pets. It’s always recommended that pets ride in the back seat or the storage area of an SUV in vehicles equipped with airbags.

Watch those windows. Although riding with their heads out of the car window is a quintessential image of dogs in car, such situations put dogs in danger. Fast-blowing debris or litter can injure the dog, and heavy airflow can damage the animal’s respiratory system, veterinarians warn. Dogs also may attempt to jump out.

Invest in a restraint system. Vehicle restraint systems keep pets safe. Small dogs may benefit from being inside crates that are secured to the vehicle. Harnessing a pooch is another option, and many harnesses connect directly to seat belts. Dog gates and guards can be installed between the back seat and the storage bay area, which is great when traveling with multiple dogs.

Avoid truck beds. The American Humane Society said pets should never be transported in the bed of pickup trucks. Dogs should only ride in pickup trucks with extended cabs that allow their owners to secure them in the backseat.

Keeping passengers, including both people and pets, safe in vehicles is the responsibility of drivers.

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