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Sadie Says… Safe travels for you and your pet

Frequently Asked Questions About Older Adult Issues

Q. My husband and I will be driving to our vacation destination and plan to take our dog and cat. What can we do so our pets travel safely?

A. For most of us, our pets are part of our family. They provide unconditional love and petting a cat or dog has been shown to reduce stress. Some people even travel with their pets. If you choose to bring your pet along in the vehicle, consider these precautions suggested by the The Humane Society of the United States to ensure their safety, and yours.

• Dogs shouldn’t roam in the car: The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seat belt or other secure means. Dog restraints or seat belts haven’t been reliably shown to protect dogs during a crash.

• Cats belong in carriers: Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. It’s important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don’t bounce around and hurt your cat. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier.

• Leave the front seat for humans: Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.

• Keep those heads inside: Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.

• Give your pet plenty of rest stops: Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. But never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash.

• Bring along a human buddy: Whenever possible, share the driving and pet care-taking duties with a friend or family member. You’ll be able to get food or use the facilities at rest stops knowing that someone you trust is keeping a close eye on your pets.

• Don’t ever leave your pet alone in a car: A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet alone in a car. Heat is a serious hazard: When it’s 72 F outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 F within an hour. On an 85 F day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 F in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re certain of your timing, you can get held up — in just 30 minutes, you could return to a 120 F car and a pet suffering irreversible organ damage or death.

— Sadie Says is provided by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition.

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