Look at that guy above. He's lovin' life right now. Adorable, ain't it? Yeah. It's adorable all right … and dangerous. Look, I don't mean to be a wet blanket here, but you wouldn't drive down the road with your child in the car without a seat belt or a car seat. Well, according to a recent study by Volvo, 69 percent of Americans view their pets as full-fledged family members, and 97 percent of pet parents drive with their quadruped kiddo in the car.
- Only about half use automotive pet safety gear of any kind
- 41 percent let their pets ride in the front seat
- About a quarter buckle their pets in with standard seat belts
Amid frustrating stats like these, and record numbers of motorists projected to hit the highways for the summer road-trip season along with untold numbers of animals, I asked my pal and Cars.com Dog-Lover-in-Chief Jen Barklow … I mean Burklow, to share her best practices for ensuring not just the physical safety of pet passengers, but also their comfort and emotional well-being:
- Prepare your pet for car rides by making the car a fun place to be. Start by letting them hang out in the car while providing treats and praise, move onto securing them safely and getting them comfortable with that, then add driving.
- Always have water and a bowl on hand, and if you're vacationing, bring along food, meds, treats and medical records.
- Find out where the nearest vet clinic, emergency vet clinic and human hospital are before you head to your destination.
- Never leave a pet in a car unattended; just like us, they can quickly suffer heatstroke or hypothermia.
- Use safety-tested pet harnesses, carriers or crates to keep pets from being a distraction or becoming dangerous projectiles in a crash.
- No pets in the front seat — ever. Airbag deployment can cause serious harm.
- In SUVs, pets should be secured with a harness in the second or third row, or in a tied-down crate in the cargo area.
- No pets should ride in the bed of a pickup truck; even if they're secured in a tied-down crate, it's noisy, windy and exposes them to rain, snow and heat.
- No hanging out windows; debris can cause serious and costly eye and ear damage.
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