Aug 12, 2023

Safety tips for taking pets on road trips

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — School is out and warmer temperatures are here, meaning more folks will travel by car to get to their favorite getaway. And while some people will board their pets during their trip, others feel more comfortable letting their furry friends hitch a ride alongside the clan.

We wanted to get the inside track on how to make trips with animals less 'ruff' - so we spoke with the director of Huntsville Animal Services, Karen Sheppard.

The first and most serious tip she gives is to never leave pets unattended in a car. No matter how quickly you think you'll be back, any number of tragedies can occur during your absence - from heatstroke and death to ingestion of foreign materials.

"It's ideal that you never, ever leave them in the car unattended," Sheppard advised. "One person's going to stay in the car with them, or you're going to have a leash with them."

Just as you should always stay buckled up while driving or riding in the passenger seat, the same should go for the pets.

"When we drive with our dogs, we're supposed to have them buckled in," she said. "They have all these little snaps that go on their harness and you actually snap them in to the seatbelt."

As an added layer of protection, Sheppard suggests crating your pet, and making sure the crate is strapped in and secured as well. "If something does happen, if there's any sort of accident and a door gets opened, your pet's not loose. They're either snapped in or in the crate."

When it comes to your pet's health needs, you should be aware of any medication they may need while you're away from home, and you should include important medical documentation with their other items.

Sheppard said it's a wise idea to have vaccination records, "because some places might want to see that they have that rabies vaccination. If you're to be gone, make sure you take their heartworm preventative," she said.

Finally, it's important to give the pets a full check-up before hitting the road. If your furry friends have anxiety or nervous tendencies, you may want to ask your vet for medication to treat those symptoms.

And as far as comfort goes, have lots of snacks and water on head to help make the trip go more easily.