November 28, 2013 Photos by: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock
‘Tis the season for travelling, as we gear up to hit the winter roads for some festive visiting. If you’re bringing your dog along with you on the road trip, Robyn Edwards from Ideas-4-Pets has a few tips to keep in mind before you drive off to your holiday destination.
The Automobile Association (AA) claims that over 18 million cars take to the roads over the Christmas period, making it one of the busiest times of year to travel. Many of us have our families spread far and wide and will be taking a trip over the festive period to share time with our loved ones.
As dog owners we don’t want to leave our furry family member alone for Christmas, as a family celebration it wouldn’t feel right not to have him involved in the festivities. Finding someone to feed your dog whilst you’re away is extremely difficult over this period, most people are too busy celebrating and enjoying their families company to pop over and feed, water and walk the dog. For many of us the only option is to take our four legged friend with us at Christmas.
Every summer we are reminded of the dangers of taking or leaving a dog in a hot car however literature on travelling with a dog in the winter is a lot less common. If you’re travelling with your dog this winter remember to consider the following to ensure he is as comfortable and safe as possible.
Whilst you and I will wrap up in hats, scarves, gloves and coats dogs only have a slightly thicker coat in the winter to keep the cold out and the heat in – winter can be bone chillingly cold. You may have the heat on in the car but the boot area where you keep your dog will be cooler than the rest of the car. Invest in a dog jacket like this fleece lined one, if you have a smaller dog or a dog who is more sensitive to heat purchase a blanket for the back of your car that he can use if he needs to.
Protecting your Dog (And You)
We’ve all heard the warnings, if you don’t wear a seatbelt and you have an accident you could injure the person in front of you or go through the windshield. Whilst most of us are sensible enough to wear a seatbelt now that we fully understand the dangers and fines have been introduced, cars don’t come fitted with a doggy-belt and his safety is as paramount as yours. Ensure you purchase either a dog car cage, dog safety harness (like a seat belt) or a dog guard. These products will not only ensure your dog’s safety but will also protect you from being distracted by your dog climbing into the front of the car – or onto your lap.
Protecting your Car
Whilst your dog may be the calmest of dogs at home, a car journey can be both exciting and traumatic for your pup. Your dog could get travel sick, away from his usual surroundings he may be unable to let you know he needs the bathroom and he may get over excited and scratch and chew at the fixtures. In order to prevent this it is best to purchase a waterproof car protector for any journey’s you take with your dog. Allow your dog to spend some time in the car protector in the house before you first take him in the car, place a couple of the dogs toys or blankets in the car protector on your first journey – the smells and toys will be familiar comforting him and making the journey less traumatic for your dog.
Things to Remember
- Antifreeze is an essential to the winter and also delicious but highly dangerous for your dog. Keep dogs away from bottles or antifreeze you may usually keep in your trunk.
- Cars in the cold do the opposite of cars in the heat – instead of an oven your car becomes a refrigeration unit. If you leave a dog in the car in the winter the temperature can plummet dangerously low.
- Do not feed your dog a large meal before taking him in the car.
- If your journey is longer than two hours make sure you stop every two hours for him to stretch his legs, use the bathroom and drink some water.
- Take your dog for a long walk before an extended drive, this will tire him out and he will be more inclined to rest and possibly sleep for the journey.