Check out our common-sense cautions to help keep your pets safe in and around vehicles.
Don’t Leave Me This Way!
Number-one rule of automobile safety for pets: NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET ALONE IN A PARKED CAR! Overheating can kill an animal.
It only takes ten minutes on an 85-degree day for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit, even if the windows have been left open an inch or two. Within 30 minutes, the interior can reach 120 degrees—and even when the temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter than the air outside. Parking in the shade offers little protection, as the sun is constantly shifting throughout the day. Pets who are young, elderly, or obese are particularly at risk of overheating (hyperthermia), as are those with thick or dark-colored coats, and breeds with short muzzles.
This same precaution carries over to the winter months, too. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing an animal to freeze to death.
Car Travel Tips
Whether you’re going around the block or across the country, the DSPCA recommends the following tips for Car Travel Tips
♦ Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it’s smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.
♦ Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. And please be sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.
♦ Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.
♦ What in your pet’s traveling kit? In addition to food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
♦ Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.
♦ Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. This can subject him to inner ear damage and lung infections, and he could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.
♦ Traveling across countries ? Find our what the Pet Passport Requirements for each country is, you don't want to have to leave them behind at the border of strange country.
♦ When it comes to water, we say bring your own. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he’s not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.
If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.
Winter Weather Precautions
The DSPCA urges pet owners to take steps to prevent accidental pet exposures to two potentially dangerous products used during the winter:
Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic, and can produce life-threatening kidney damage in pets, even in small amounts. Most cases of antifreeze poisoning occur around the pet’s home and are usually due to improper storage or disposal, so it’s important that you take the following precautions:
- Always clean up antifreeze spills immediately.
- Store antifreeze in clearly marked, sealed containers, in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.
- Consider switching to antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol, which are relatively less toxic and provide an extra margin of safety for pets and wildlife.
- Be alert for leaks and spills from neighborhood vehicles when taking your pet on walks during the winter months.
Ice melts are available in both liquid and solid forms, and are used to melt ice and snow on slippery sidewalks, roads and driveways. Ice melts may contain ingredients that, if ingested by pets, can produce effects that include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, weakness, and low blood pressure; in severe cases, cardiac abnormalities, seizures, coma and even death can result.
If you suspect that your pet may have ingested antifreeze or ice melts, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Not So Cool For Cats
During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars for warmth and protection. But a car’s fan belt can kill or injure an animal when the motor starts. If you are aware that there are outdoor or feral cats in your neighborhood, please bang on the hood of the car and wait a few seconds before turning on the engine.