Don’t fur-get about safety when traveling with your pets
As New Jerseyans prepare to hit the roads this summer for weekend road trips or long vacations, they may also be planning to take their four-legged friends with them.
AAA Mid-Atlantic offers some tips to make traveling with Fido easier and safer.
Spokeswoman Tracy Noble says before you take your fur babies on a car trip, you must have a plan and be prepared.
Get a clean bill of health from your veterinarian and make sure all of your pet's vaccinations are up to date.
She also suggests taking your pet in the car for some random trips so they used to the vehicle and won't try to jump out as soon as the door opens.
Water and bathroom breaks are very important for pets. Noble recommends stopping every four hours to let your dog have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature.
No matter how short or long your drive is, Noble says it is crucial that pets be restrained while inside the vehicle. She says it's not safe for the driver or the pets if they are not.
"They need to be restrained on a harness in the vehicle or in a crate. That way if there is a crash, they are compartmentalized," she says.
The crate should have enough room for your pet to stand and turn around in but not so much room that the animal gets tossed around if you suddenly have to hit the brakes.
Noble says you may think a pet won't enjoy a car trip while restrained, but the idea is to arrive at your destination safely and you need to take a pet's health into consideration.
She also makes it very clear that a dog should not be on a driver's lap while the car is in motion. Not only does this distract a driver, but in the event of a crash, the air bag will deploy into a pet's face. A small dog likely would not survive such an impact, says Noble.
Another misconception is that drivers think it's fun to have their dogs hang their heads out the windows. Noble says that is definitely not a good idea.
"Their eyes are very delicate and sensitive and with the amount of debris on roadways — we've all been there when we get a rock in our windshield coming off a vehicle. Imagine that going into your pet's eye."
Plus in a crash, the animal's neck could get trapped and wedged in the window.
If you're not sure where to take your pet on vacation, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers a PetBook, containing more than 12,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels with specific pet policies including fees, housekeeping, size restrictions and pet services. The PetBook also lists about 1000 AAA approved restaurants that allow pets in outside dining areas.