Road Rules For Dogs

When traveling with your dogs, the best navigational tools are knowledge and planning.

By | Posted: Fri Oct 1 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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If your summer travel climate includes rain and thunderstorms, be prepared for your dog to get wet. Bring clean towels to dry him off and keep him warm, and avoid putting him in an air-conditioned car while damp. If your dog is afraid of thunder, talk to your veterinarian about a prescription sedative; alternatively, stop by your local pet supply store for pheromone or herbal calming agents before your trip. Best to test these out before you leave home, as dosages and effectiveness will vary from dog to dog.

Most dog events take place during the spring and summer, with some in the fall, and fewer during the winter. However, those traveling with their dogs for fun in the wintertime need to watch out for frostbite. Don't allow your dog too much time in the cold and snow if he's not used to it, and make sure he stays dry. Ice and snow can be tough on delicate paw pads, so ke ep an eye on your dog to make sure his feet are okay if he's spending time outdoors. In addition to trimming the hair between his pads, which can trap balls of snow and ice, you might consider protective boots for his paws. Even city streets can become tantamount to the rugged outdoors in extreme conditions.

As for the car ride itself, your dog must be securely situated. It's illegal for humans to drive without a seatbelt, with good reason - letting your dog ride in the car without some kind of restraint compromises both his safety and yours. In the event of an accident, anything can happen to an unrestrained dog. He could be lost or injured, and may injure you in the process. According to crash-test results, a pet is propelled forward 30 times its weight during a 30-mile-per-hour accident. That means a 30-pound dog in motion has effectively 900 pounds of force behind it. At faster speeds (and heavier weights), the force is even greater.

There are several readily available products for safe car travel:

Crates. One of the most secure ways to transport your dog is in a crate. Plastic crates with mesh metal doors seem to provide the most safety in the event of an accident. Metal crates can also keep your dog from being propelled forward after impact, and are preferred by some dog owners because they provide greater ventilation than plastic. Soft crates with cloth or canvas sides, while good for carrying on foot and restraining motion, won't provide much protection in the event of an accident.

Kennel restraints. Crates are even safer for car travel if they are secured with a kennel restraint. These strap-like devices wrap around the crate and attach to the seat belt, round bar, or tie down points of the seat or cargo areas of SUVs and vans. Kennel restraints are made for just about any size crate, and will accommodate small, medium and large breeds.

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