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Whether your canine companion or feline friend is joining you for a cross-country road trip or a quick drive across town, it’s essential that the proper safety precautions are in place so that they can have a safe and enjoyable car ride. Thankfully for pet parents, there are plenty of car accessories for pets that can help keep their safety a priority.
Before you and your pet hit the open road and set off on your next adventure (or a trip to the veterinarian), there’s plenty of helpful gear to consider adding to your car to make sure your cat or dog is safe and comfortable during their ride.
Having your cat or dog in a crate or travel carrier is the ideal way for them to ride in the car. Not only can these be a comforting place for your pet, but they can also provide added protection if you’re in a wreck. When shopping for either option, be sure to check that the size is appropriate for your pet and your car, that there is a way to secure the carrier to your car seats, and if the product has been crash tested.
Ideally, the carrier or crate would be in your back seats. However, you may need to secure your pet in the front passenger seat or on the floor in a two-seater vehicle or a truck. In this case, turning off your passenger airbags can be helpful. With large or extra-large dogs, you may have room for a crate in the cargo area of an SUV, but of course, this is only possible for some cars.
There are many options for keeping your pup or cat safe in the vehicle, even when crates and carriers aren’t an option. For instance, a harness that can attach to the seat or headrest can be a fantastic choice. Using a harness instead of a collar is also recommended when securing your pet so that the resistance can be dispersed over your dog’s abdomen or chest instead of their neck in case of an incident.
Whether shopping for a cat or dog harness, be sure to also look at reviews, sizing charts, and overall designs. If you have a little Houdini on your hands, you may want a harness that prevents slipping and escaping.
Some pet accessory companies offer attachments that hook into your dog’s harness and click directly into your car’s seatbelts. These can be a great option for a pet parent with multiple pets, who doesn’t have room for more than one crate in their car. Seatbelts can also be convenient since they can easily be transferred from one vehicle to another, making it easy to use for people who are always traveling with their pet. Plus, you know your pet will be secure until the moment you undo their seatbelt.
During warmer months or longer drives, it’s essential that you bring along some fresh water and a water bowl for your pet. Our four-legged friends can become dehydrated just like us, so it’s best to offer them water anytime you stop for a break or before you get back in the vehicle.
Although you never plan for accidents, it never hurts to be prepared just in case one occurs. Having a first-aid kit ready can be extremely helpful if your pet ever has an accident at a rest stop or during your road trip. Not to mention, in the event that you’re in a fender bender and your pet receives a superficial wound, you’d already have supplies handy to give them immediate care. You can easily keep the kit under a seat or in your trunk or glove box.
Some giant breeds or older dogs may be unable to jump in or out of your car—it could hurt their joints. Instead of lifting your dog every time, you may find that a car ramp is the perfect solution. Many options have anti-slip material for your dog’s safety and are foldable to fit in your car better. Giving your best pal easier mobility to get in and out of the car can keep them safe from injuries and may even help them enjoy going for car rides even more.
Many parents purchase sunshades for their babies or young children, but they can also benefit your pets. Even with the air-conditioning, it can still get hot when the sun’s rays come through your windows. Sunshades help provide an extra layer of protection for your pal.
While including a bed or blanket for your pet on a car ride can provide comfort and a nice place to rest, blankets can also help keep your pet safe and healthy when traveling in colder conditions. You never know when you might get stuck in traffic, or your car may break down, so it’s best to have an emergency blanket for your pet—you should have one for yourself too. It doesn’t take long in low temperatures before your car acts like a refrigerator.
This can be a nice option for dog parents that want to protect their seats, keep their pups from sliding, and deter them from climbing into the front seat. There are many styles, fabrics, and prices for hammock-style seat covers, but this can work well for various vehicle models. Plus, this type of gear is easily removable for transfer to another vehicle or to be cleaned.
By providing your cat or dog with a fun, interactive toy in the car, their mind will be preoccupied, and they may even begin to look forward to car rides. In addition, getting your pet comfortable with riding in the car can help make car rides safer. Your pet won’t be trying to jump in your lap, escape their crate or slip out of their harness, which could cause you to be distracted from the road.
Adding pet safety gear to your car can make a major difference with such a small change. Your pet can have a more comfortable ride in the car while you can rest assured that they are secure and safe.
As any pet parent knows, although you may take every precaution in the book, accidents can still happen, especially on the road. Whether there’s a car accident, a major roadblock, or you encounter poor weather, you and your pet’s trip in the car may be a bit more adventurous than you originally signed up for.
Although every driver knows the importance of having their car covered under an insurance plan, not every pet parent has their cat or dog enrolled in a pet insurance plan. In the instance that you are in a car accident and your pet gets injured, your car insurance might not cover any medical costs your pet acquires—this will become an out-of-pocket expense to you. However, if your pet is already signed up for a pet insurance plan (and their waiting period has passed), then their coverage can help with costs related to the accident.
The great thing about car safety for pets is that something as small as a dog harness or cat carrier can significantly affect your pet’s safety. Your pets mean the world to you, so why not take the extra step and keep them protected during every mile of your journey together?
An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.