Tips for drivers taking pets on the road

Pet owners can take simple precautions to keep their dogs safe during ‘dog days of summer’

MERIDEN, Conn.—America’s vacation season is in full swing, and many dogs and cats are joining their owners for family vacations and weekend getaways. Although summer heat and driving can be a dangerous combination for household pets, they do not have to be if drivers take some simple precautions.

Ray Palermo, director of public information for Teachers’ Insurance Plan, offered some advice from the insurance program’s Driving with Your Pet brochure. “There are more than 120 million household dogs and cats in the nation,” said Palermo. “They’re members of the family, and when we take a driving vacation, they are often along for the ride. Unfortunately, too many drivers do not take the time to prepare them for long trips.” Palermo suggests several ways to help ensure a safe driving experience.

If the pet is not used to car trips, try a few test runs to help acclimate them for the ride. Spending time in the car while parked and short drives to nearby destinations are an easy start.

Cats should be kept in a carrier, and dogs should be held in a restraining harness. This will help stabilize your pet if there is a sudden movement or accident.

Feed your pet a little less than you would normally. Since too much water can upset their stomachs on the road, limit water by providing ice to chew on. And don’t forget to pack some toys and any other favorite items or bedding.

When traveling to places your pet is not familiar with, it is particularly important to have a collar with an ID tag that includes both your permanent and vacation addresses and phone numbers. Bring a photo of your pet in the event you need to put up “Lost Pet” posters. Many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations also offer micro-chip identification implants.

Dogs like to stick their heads out of the car window, but this is very unsafe. Small stones and debris become dangerous projectiles at highway speeds.

Never leave your pet in a car in warm or hot weather. Even with windows open, or parked in the shade, interior temperatures can quickly rise to lethal levels.

Pack a first aid kit with tweezers and alcohol for tick removal, cloth bandages and topical antiseptic.

The free brochure, Driving with Your Pet, and other information is available by calling 1-800-610-5928 and at

From the July 19-25, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!