Going home for the holidays is an exciting time for people who don’t usually have the opportunity to visit their families throughout the year. It’s a great time to grab your animal companion and hit the road for a few days of family fun. However, depending on how far you have to drive to get home and how well your cat or dog does in the car, this may be a slightly stressful time for you and your furry friend. Here are a few ways to make sure you stay safe on the road while prioritizing the needs of your pet this holiday season.
Although you may trust your dog enough to let them wander in the back seat during a drive, this is usually not the safest way to travel. Having to keep track of where your dog is in your vehicle at all times can quickly distract you from driving; if they fall in a seat crack, get tangled up in a seat belt or accidentally open a window, you may be tempted to take your eyes off the road. The safest way to travel with your pet is by keeping them secure in a comfortable pet taxi that’s buckled up with a seatbelt — especially on the off chance that your car or someone else’s loses control and causes an accident.
Drive During Daylight Hours
If you have the option of driving during the daytime, this is always a much safer option than driving at night. Driving at night decreases your ability to see animals that may be crossing the road up ahead or to notice black ice that is forming as the temperature drops, which lowers the reaction time you have available to you. Similarly, by driving during the day, you are more likely to avoid drowsy driving and drowsy drivers, especially truck drivers, who are twice as likely to make driving errors at critical moments that can lead to tragic accidents.
Your dog or cat is also more likely to be at ease if you’re driving during the day, when they have a better view of what’s going on. By keeping them in their pet cab during the daytime drive, they won’t be disoriented by any bright headlights constantly passing by.
If you’re one of those drivers who only breaks for the time it takes to put gas in your car, you may need to reconsider your driving strategy for this trip. Pets are like children: they get hungry, thirsty, restless and need to go potty more often than you do. Make frequent stops and schedule extra time for your drive to give them a few minutes to stretch their legs, have a light snack, and relieve themselves. This will allow them to be more comfortable when they get back in the car, which means less whining for you to listen to throughout the drive.
When you’re ready to hit the road again, make sure your cat or dog has their favorite blanket in the pet cab with them to help them get cozy until the next stop. Keep a toy available to them as well so they have something to poke at if they get bored during the drive.
Eyes on the Road
Last but not least, attentive driving is the most important part of safe driving during the holiday season. Put your phone away while you’re behind the wheel so you aren’t tempted to look at and respond to messages you receive while on the road. Check all of your mirrors regularly to remain aware of your surroundings and to avoid highway hypnosis. Although driverless cars are predicted to reduce distracted driving and cut accidents by 90 percent in the near future, we must continue driving as carefully as possible until this becomes an option.
Staying safe on the road is a really important part of keeping your pets safe during the holidays, but if for some reason you decide that this is not the right trip for your pet to accompany you, considering hiring a dog or cat boarding service that will make sure your pet is safe while you’re away. Peace of mind is important during this stressful time of year, and knowing your pet is in good hands during the holidays is an investment worth making.
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