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Traveling with your dog can be great, but only if it’s safe

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By KAREN CUNNINGHAM

Is taking them on a short errand worth risking their life?

Yearly, over 30,000 dogs are killed or injured in truck bed accidents. A dog riding unrestrained in the back of a truck can jump or be thrown out of the vehicle. If you think that securing him with a rope or chain is any better, you’re wrong. There have been cases where dogs were thrown out of the back of the truck while still attached and dragged on the road.

Another problem is that the bed of the truck can get scorching hot. Dog’s pads do not offer protection against a surface that hot, their pads can get badly burned. They also need protection from the sun to prevent heatstroke.

If you must put your dog in the back of the truck, a crate is the best option. Be sure to secure the crate to the truck bed and cover the top to shield your dog from the sun.

Be sure there is enough ventilation for your pal to get plenty of air.

For motor vehicles, pet travel crates, pet safety belts, and pet car seats are the safest bets. And if none of these are available to you, consider keeping your pet safe at home.

This is what the Humane Society of the United States says on the subject:

“Dogs who are riding in the backs of pickup trucks may look like they’re having fun. Noses testing the wind and ears flopping, they seem to be enjoying the trip — and they get to go places with their owners. But they’re not safe: When you transport your dog in the open bed of your truck, you endanger both your dog and other motorists.

“If your truck hits a bump, or if you step on the brakes suddenly or swerve to avoid an obstacle, your dog can easily be thrown from the truck bed and onto the road. Chances are, this will injure or kill your dog. But even if it doesn’t, being struck by another vehicle probably will. Also, other drivers may cause an accident by swerving to avoid hitting your dog.

“If you must transport your dog in a pickup truck, put him in the cab with you in a travel crate or other pet carrier. If you have an extended cab, have your pet ride in the back portion of the cab where he will be away from the front windshield. It is not safe for your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup even with a restraint. The HSUS knows of no brand of harness that has been proven safe in this situation. In fact, there have been cases where dogs restrained by leashes or harnesses have been strangled or dragged after being thrown from a truck bed.”

Sure, crack the window, but no heads out!

Besides accidents, wind is a painful hazard. Wind whipping through the dog’s ears is full of dirt, debris, and insects that can lodge in the eyes, nose, or ears and cause serious damage.

Allowing your dog to let it stick its head out the window is a very dangerous habit. Their eyes are exposed to dirt, rocks, dust, and other debris. These materials can easily puncture and scratch your dog’s eyes. Damage to the ears is another big concern.

When the dog’s ears flap in the wind, his soft earflaps (pinnae) can easily become irritated, swell, and become very tender.

The constant and rapid flapping of the pinnae against your dog’s head from high-speed winds causes trauma to the ear and results in swelling.

Lap dogs they should never be in a car.

A dog riding on a driver’s lap can interfere with driving, climb down into the foot well, or otherwise distract the driver. In a crash, the dog could be suffocated or crushed by a deployed airbag or may be thrown into the windshield.

For small dogs and other pets, purchasing a small portable kennel is the simplest answer and then securely strapping it into the backseat seatbelt system. Be sure the crate is not too big, the animal can still be hurt slamming against the sides of the crate. The best way for a larger dog to travel in a motor vehicle is in a good travel harness attached to a seatbelt.

Don’t leave your dog in the car.

Owners should never leave pets in a car unattended, even on a temperate day.

The temperature in a motor vehicle can reach 110 degrees or higher in a matter of minutes even with windows left cracked. Normal rectal temperature for a dog is 100-102 degrees. A temperature of 104 degrees is significant and 105 or higher is very dangerous for a dog.

A dog in heat distress may be panting heavily or disoriented.

In addition, you put your pet at risk of injuring itself while unattended or of being stolen from your vehicle.

Traveling with your pet can be wonderful experience for both of you, but only if you are both safe.

Karen Cunningham is president of the St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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