How to keep your pet safe in the car

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It’s the start of a classic Kiwi family holiday: shove the bags into the boot, strap in the kids, and finally squeeze the dog (or cat) into whatever space is left over. Our pets may often be beloved members of the family, but they can be accidentally neglected when it comes to travel arrangements. Sometimes, we can tend to squeeze them in as an afterthought as if they’re nothing but extra baggage, or carried with their owners without proper safety arrangements.

Dog in carSo what are some good ways to give your pet a safer, more relaxing time in your car?

Use a travel crate

A crate or travel carrier is the safest way to transport your pet. Seeing as no animal is going to voluntarily wear a seatbelt, particularly the likes of cats or dogs, the next best thing is to let them ride in a reinforced carrier which will keep them contained in the event of an accident or sudden braking. When buying a pet carrier, look for features such as good ventilation, adequate size and a comfortable interior (including insulation if you live in a cold area). Some high-end models are even crash-test certified for extra safety and peace of mind.

If your pet isn’t too keen on being shut in a container for several hours, you can also buy specialised car seats or modified seatbelts for larger animals. Special car barriers for pets also exist if you prefer to let your pet ride in the boot of the car. Another reason to get yourself such a container is if you have pet insurance – if your pet gets injured in an accident, your policy might not apply if your pet wasn’t travelling safely.

Let them out regularly

Just like you need a break from driving every few hours, your pets are no doubt itching to stretch their legs, wings or whatever limbs they have. Dogs in particular will become restless and need a walk and a toilet stop every few hours. And of course, it’s crucial that you never leave your pet alone in the car; even with the windows open, dogs can be susceptible to heat stroke on a hot day, and there’s also the possibility of them hurting themselves in an environment they’re not used to.

Keep them well supplied

Just like you would with the rest of the family, it’s important to keep your pet well stocked with food and water throughout the journey – you can buy collapsible travel bowls for this exact purpose. A good way to prepare is to feed your pet a couple of hours before setting off, so that they eat less food during the journey and there’s less risk of mess or an upset stomach.

Keep them company!

Remember, travelling in a car can often be overwhelming and scary for small animals, even ones who’ve done it before. Keep your pet company and show them lots of love and affection, and it’ll make their journey much more pleasant.

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