Whether it’s a quick visit to the vet or an out-of-town road trip, there are a number of reasons why you may decide to bring your pet along for a drive. While any good pet owner knows the ins and outs of caring for their furry companion at home, you may not be as familiar with pet safety precautions while on the road. Regardless of how short or long your road trip may be, here are five essential safety tips to keep you and your pet safe while in the vehicle together.
1. Check your provincial laws
Each province has its own laws relating to the transportation of animals. In Ontario, there are two Highway Traffic Act charges that can apply when traveling with pets: 1
Insecure Load Offence: This charge can occur if a pet is left loose in the back bed of a pickup truck. If you need to drive with your pet in the back of your pickup truck, your pet needs to be safely secured in a locked crate.
Careless Driving Offence: This charge can occur if a driver is caught with a pet riding on their lap. All pets must be kept securely in the back seat or cargo area of your vehicle while on the road.
Read your provincial laws about car or truck travel with animals before embarking on your next road trip.
2. Get your pet used to your vehicle
While some pets perk up when they hear the words “car ride,” others may be less enthusiastic. It can be difficult to focus on driving if your pet becomes anxious or carsick during the ride. Gear up for your first road trip together by inviting your pet to spend time with you in your vehicle, while it is parked and turned off. Once your pet has grown more comfortable with your car or truck, take them on a series of short drives, gradually increasing the length of each trip. It’s helpful to end each of these short trips with a fun destination or treat, so your pet begins to associate a ride in your vehicle with a positive experience.
3. Pack a travel kit
Just like you would pack for your human family members before a road trip, you should do the same for your four-legged family members. Your pet’s travel kit should include food, water, a bowl, their leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies if needed, medication, a first-aid kit and their vaccination records. It’s also a good idea to pack your pet’s favourite toy, pillow or blanket to give them a sense of comfort and familiarity while on the road.
4. Secure your pet for travel in the back of your vehicle
Your pet should be securely restrained in a well-ventilated crate, carrier or seatbelt harness in the back seat or cargo area of your vehicle. If your pet is travelling in a crate or carrier, ensure it is large enough for them to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. It’s also wise to get your pet comfortable with their crates or carrier outside of the vehicle first. Test that your pet’s carrier is secure, so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop. Never let your pet ride in the front seat, as they can distract the driver and become seriously injured by the windshield or air bag in the event of a collision. Refrain from letting your pet stick its head out of the window of your vehicle, as they could be at risk of injury from wind damage and flying objects.
5. Take regular breaks
If you are planning on embarking on a long-distance road trip with your pet, you will need to schedule breaks at least every couple of hours. During these breaks, take your pet for a short walk and allow them to stretch their legs, relieve themselves and work out excess energy before returning to the vehicle.
Sometimes accidents happen, even to the most careful and experienced drivers. If you have questions about your current OTIP auto insurance policy, call your OTIP broker at 1-800-267-6847. If you’d like to get a new quote for car insurance, speak with an OTIP broker today at 1-866-561-5559.
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1. Ontario SPCA