5 things to remember when your pet is your passenger

In a country of nearly 320 million, there are an awful lot of differences in opinion. But if there are two things that just about every American shares some common ground on, it’s the love of cars and pets.

The numbers prove it. Just last year, new-car sales hit an all-time record high of 17.5 million automobiles purchased countrywide, according to vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book. That’s up 6% from 2014.

Pet ownership has always been popular, dogs and cats especially. Nearly 70 million dogs are registered in the U.S., according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and 74 million felines.

One of the more iconic images of modern America is a dog with its head out the window, with its tongue hanging in the wind, and ears flopping in the breeze. Classic though it may be, pets and automobiles don’t always go well together, particularly when you consider that pets can easily roam around in your vehicle. Additionally, it’s not surprising that man’s best friend has a tendency to leave a trail wherever their paws may take them.

However, as a responsible owner, your four-legged friend can be your traveling companion with the proper pet preparation:

Purchase a harness

First and foremost is safety, but unfortunately far too many motorists drive without their pet securely fastened to the seat. PetSmart, Petco, Amazon, and several other online sources have a wide variety of harnesses that can ensure your dog stays put. As for cats and smaller pets, the safest way to travel is with an appropriate pet carrier. Leaving your cat, for example, loose in the vehicle is dangerous.

Roll window down, just not all the way

Dogs sure do love the fresh air, and it’s good for them to feel the breeze as the wind goes rushing by. That said, allowing your dog to hang its head out the window may seem innocent, but it risks potential eye injury should debris kick up from the road. Avoid the risk and only open the window halfway or a third of the way down.

Avoid holding pet in your lap

There’s a reason why some dog breeds and other small animals, especially cats, are known for enjoying the comfort of a lap. However, the car is not the place. Not only is this against the law in some cases, but pets could be seriously injured or killed in the event of a crash.

Keep them at home during temperature extremes

When the temperatures plunge or soar, the last place your pet should be is inside of a car. An unattended car with pets inside on a hot summer day – or cold winter night – is a health hazard that can be deadly.

Buy a seat protector

To keep your car seats clean – and fur-free – you may want to buy a seat protector. They come in a variety of styles, sizes, and are usually washing machine safe. Several car seat covers are also odor resistant to prevent unwanted wet dog smells.

The next journey to parts unknown, with your pet riding shotgun,  shouldn’t be so “ruff” around the edges with these tips as your guide.