Safety is key when traveling with pets

Adorable Little Dog In Santa HatWith the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important not to forget about the safety of our pets. While the Internet provides many articles outlining how to keep our furry friends safe and happy this time of year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are 10 top tips that should be followed.

1. Pets should have a vet checkup before the cold sets in as cold weather could exacerbate any health issues your pet may already have.

2. Wind-chill is a threat to not only humans, but animals too. While every animal is different, if it is cold for you, it is probably cold for your pet as well.

3. If your pet will spending a large amount of time outside, make sure they have a dry, draft-free shelter. They need room to sit and lay down, while being in a small enough space to contain body heat. The floor should be raised of the ground with materials for the animal to burrow. The doorway should also be covered with waterproof burlap or a heavy plastic to keep the wind out.

4. If your pet stays outside, you need to check its water more often to make sure it’s not frozen. You should also increase your pet’s food intake as keeping warm in cold weather burns a more energy than usual.

5. Check your pet’s paws during the winter, especially after a walk outside where they are exposed to chemicals like salt. By cleaning your pet’s paws after walks you can ensure that potentially harmful substances don’t collect or build up.

6. Keep chemicals like antifreeze away from animals at all times. It smells and tastes sweet to animals, but it is deadly if ingested.

7. It’s important for animals to have current identification collars or be microchipped as animals are more prone to get lost since in the winter as snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that normally help them find their way home.

8. Make noise before starting the car as cats and other animals may crawl up under the hood of your vehicle to warm up. Making noise should make sure the animals are safe and out of the way before starting your engine.

9. Hunting dogs also need to be kept warm as well this winter. When hunting, keep your dog out of the wind and water as much as possible and never let your dog walk on ice. Playing fetch during downtime is a good way to keep them warm.

10. Cats and dogs are not the only animals needing warmth and shelter this winter. Horses need a protected space along with a blanket to beat the chill. Unfrozen water and extra food for them are also necessary during the cold temperatures.

If you believe you pet may be experiencing hypothermia, some signs may include:

  • Persistent whining or barking.
  • For quiet animals, eye contact can also be a sign.
  • Shivering and pacing.
  • Anxiety and weakness.
  • When walking an animal they may try to head home early.
  • Lethargy or immobility.
  • If your pet is holding their paw up, chances are they need to warm up.
  • The same thing applies if they are attempting to burrow or find shelter.

Traveling with your pets this holiday season also poses a potentially dangerous situation if they are not secured properly in your car. According to another recently published article in the Detroit Free Press, millions of pet owners unknowingly put their dogs and cats at risk when they travel for the holidays. By making sure all pets are secured in crates or cages while in vehicles can make the journey safer and more enjoyable.

The article states that an unsecured pet is potentially a projectile inside the vehicle. In an accident, the pet could hit the windshield and be injured, or it could strike one of the human occupants. Small animals can also cause serious injuries during an accident, especially for children when a car is moving at a fast speed.

With more than half of U.S. pet owners traveling with pets, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Never drive with a pet on your lap. It’s dangerous for the animal, you and other drivers. The driver’s air bag could immediately kill any animal small enough to fit on your lap. The animal could also slip onto the floor because of bumpy roads or a sudden maneuver.
  • It’s a bad idea to let your dog stick its head out the window. While the dog may enjoy it, stones that can chip a windshield could injure or blind a dog. Even a grain of sand or leaf could damage a dog’s eyes at automotive speeds.
  • Because animals can slip out of vehicles while far from home, it is once again important that they always wear collars with ID tags. The tags should have the owner’s mobile phone number, so they’re easy to reach while traveling.
  • The article also suggests first getting animals acclimated to car travel when they’re young by taking them on short, regular trips. By traveling two or three blocks and then returning home they begin to understand car rides end with returning home.


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