During the holidays, the family road trip takes on a whole new meaning because in many cases it includes everyone — even your pet. And while your pet is certainly on your mind as you pack for the journey, they may not be part of your consideration as you prepare your vehicle for the trip.
Like other family members, however, pets have specific needs and there are things you can do to make your vehicle safer and more comfortable for everyone inside, including your pet.
1. Pick the right vehicle.
You may not have a lot of choice here, but if you do have vehicle options, opt for a choice that will allow more room for your pet. Hatchbacks, for example, provide plenty of space for smaller pets, including room for them to stand up and stretch their legs. If you have a larger dog, then a minivan or SUV is the better choice to provide them the room and comfort they will need.
2. See that your tires are up to task.
The success of your holiday trip and the comfort of your drive for your entire family depends, in large part, on the condition of your tires. “Tires influence braking, steering, comfort, handling and even fuel efficiency,” says Bob Abram, senior product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation. Abram said before you set out on the road, be sure to check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth. “You’ll find the recommended tire pressure in your vehicle’s owner manual or on the inside jamb of your front doors.”
Checking the tread, however, requires nothing more than a simple penny. Place the penny upside down into the crease of your tire tread. If President Lincoln’s head is still visible, your tires are worn and you should get them replaced before beginning your trip.” More info here.
3. Show some restraint.
Whether it’s a full-blown enclosure or a harness, you should have some plan for securing your pet in the vehicle. Research from BarkBuckleUp.com shows that a 60-pound dog traveling in a vehicle at 35 mph will turn into a 2,700-pound projectile in the event of an accident. Investing in an enclosure system protects your pets and you and it also allows you to determine where your pet resides in the car during the trip.
4. The little niceties.
In addition to giving your pet sufficient room, there are other things you can do to make the trip more comfortable for them. Place a liner or cargo area mat inside the car in the area where your pet will be kept and then be sure they have access to food and water, either standing offerings or through your predetermined stops. Spill-proof water bowls are available, as are collapsible or resealable options, for example.
5. Embrace the journey.
In order to make the trip as comfortable as possible for your pet, you need to recognize it may be a longer journey. Walk your dog before you leave and stop every couple of hours to give them a break. Don’t leave your pet alone in the car in very low or high temperatures and once you reach your final destination, take your pet for a nice long walk, it’s the best way to ensure your arrival starts off on a positive note.