Taking your pets for a ride, safely

Monday was National Pet Travel Safety Day, a yearly reminder to make sure pets are kept safe and secure when traveling.

Teddy, our 8-year-old black Lab, loves car rides. He goes with his fearless leader, my husband Ed, on all errand runs. Even if just a quick trip to Dot’s Market for something we need for dinner, the pooch is at the garage door raring to go.

He stretches out on the back seat of the car, rarely raising his head unless Ed pulls into Walgreens or Fifth Third Bank. If the pharmacist or bank associate doesn’t have a treat, Ed swears the dog sulks until they get home and Ed gives him one.

When our family travels to Lake Michigan, our pets come with us. Teddy sits directly behind me and Pip, our 3-year-old feline, sits directly behind Ed, the driver, in his carrier.

The web offers many helpful suggestions to get your pets ready to travel.

One of the most common is getting pets microchipped before traveling. Both Teddy and Pip wear collars with detailed information on the hanging tags. But collars can come off. As an added safety measure, the two also have microchips. If one or both would happen to get separated from us, a humane society or police station would be able to scan the number and locate us.

We also subscribe to Home Again, which has the pets’ microchipped numbers, current data and photo. If one of them is missing, the service sends out alerts in the areas the animal was last seen. At your pet’s yearly vet visit, have the vet run the scanner over the animal to make sure the microchip still works.

When asked for the worst activity owners let their dogs do when traveling in a car, many experts list leaning out of windows. While a dog riding in a car with its hair blowing in the wind may look good in TV commercials, it’s dangerous. I’ve yet to talk to a dog expert or read an article that says it’s OK to let dogs stick their heads out of car windows.

A pooch could lean too far out and fall, or a sudden stop could propel it out the window. Bugs, road gravel or debris such as small sticks can scratch or become embedded in one or both eyes.

A dog could see another dog, cat or anything that would grab its attention and suddenly bolt from the car.

Ed’s childhood dog, Fritz, a wiry salt-and-pepper Miniature Schnauzer, was, as Ed’s mom, Marilyn, describes him, “something else.” The pup was all energy and never missed an opportunity to create mischief. A lot like his owner, but that’s another column.

One afternoon, Marilyn, a 5-year-old Ed and Fritz were driving on a busy street near Syracuse, N.Y. Fritz decided he needed to stretch his legs and jumped out the car window. Luckily, Marilyn was able to quickly drive to the side of the road and grab the pooch.

Yes, the list of dangers when a dog rides in a vehicle with his head outside the window goes on and on.

According to yuckypuppy.com, “To keep your dog happy and safe, just crack the window about an inch. Fresh air and scents will come rushing in, providing plenty of enrichment for your dog while he travels safely inside the auto.”


Online: For information about keeping you and your pet safe when you two travel, go online to cdc.gov/healthypets/keeping‑pets‑and‑people

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at spicerkarin@gmail.com.

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