Traveling with a pet by car involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. Here are a few car travel safety tips from the ASPCA website to help you prepare for a smooth and safe trip.
- Prep your pet for a long trip. Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. If you’re traveling across state lines, bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record. While this generally isn’t a problem, some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings.
- Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Secure your pet’s crate so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop. If you decide to forgo the crate, don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.
- Prep a pet-friendly travel kit. Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. Pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure, and always opt for bottled water. Drinking water from an area he or she isn’t used to could result in stomach discomfort.
- Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
If you or your passengers are injured in an auto accident, auto insurance coverage will cover your medical bills and expenses. But what if you’re in a car accident and your pet is injured?
Car insurance and pet coverage
Whether your pet is covered depends on your policy and auto insurance company. Most insurance companies provide no coverage for pet passengers, but some offer special coverage for pets, regardless of fault. Progressive, for example, has special injury coverage of up to $1,000 for pets. It’s built into collision coverage, so you must purchase that to ensure your pets are covered.
However, if your pet is seriously injured, $1,000 will cover some, but not all, of your veterinary bills. Vet bills for injured pets can reach into the thousands, depending on the extent of the injuries and the treatment required.
Check with your insurance agent to obtain coverage or see if your pets are already covered in your policy. Pets are members of the family, and I want your whole family to be safe out there!