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Pets aren’t just pets – they’re treasured friends and family members. As pet owners, we want to keep our buddies safe both at home and on the road. Whether they’re headed for fun times at the park or a trip to the vet, here are a few tips for safe driving with pets in the car.

Keep pets in a crate.

The best way to protect dogs and especially cats while in a moving vehicle is to keep them in a crate. Use a seat belt or dog restraint to secure the crate to the seat. This will prevent them from distracting you while driving and help protect them fron injury in the event of an accident.

Have cats? Use a carrier.

Felines aren’t too fond of traveling in automobiles, especially if it’s their first time. The solution? Keep them in a specially designed cat carrier so they don’t pounce on you or curiously bop random controls in your vehicle. Make sure to secure the crate firmly in place with a seat belt or pet restraint.

Keep pets in the back seat.

While it may seem fun to have your dog or cat ride shotgun, the force of a deployed airbag can cause serious injury to them, even if they’re inside a crate or carrier. This is especially true for smaller pets. It’s best to keep them safe in the back seat.

Keep all their body parts inside the vehicle.

The movies may glorify dogs who stick their head out the window as the wind laps against their tongues, but in reality, it can be quite dangerous. Dirt and unsavory particles can injure them or get in their eyes. Cold air blowing into their lungs can make them ill. Always drive with your pet safely inside the car.

Take breaks on long road trips.

On long drives, it’s important to take frequent breaks to allow your pets to move around and do their business. However, always make sure to equip them with a collar, leash, and ID tag.

Share the responsibility.

Bring a trusted family member or friend to take some of the stress off your shoulders. You’ll breathe easier knowing that your pet is in good hands when you leave the car to use the restroom or pick up food at a restaurant or convenience store.

Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle.

Even if it’s only for a few minutes, never leave dogs or cats by themselves in a vehicle. A breezy, balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit can easily translate to over 110 degrees inside a vehicle in less than 60 minutes. Exposure to intense heat for just half an hour can cause severe damage to your pet’s organs. Leaving the windows open does little to help, and may even invite thieves to make off with your beloved friend. Just as you wouldn’t leave an infant unattended in a car, don’t do it to your pets.

Bring supplies.

Don’t leave the driveway without sufficient food, water, vet-prescribed pet medications, and a first aid kit. Cats will need their litter boxes, and dogs their favorite toy. Bring plastic bags for cleanup, and any other essentials your pet can’t do without.