Car Safety: The Right Way to Transport Your Puppy

Many puppy parents don’t think twice about shuttling their new furry baby around in a car. Most of the preparation for a new puppy surrounds training, purchasing the necessary “stuff” and puppy proofing your home. But, what most don’t realize is that there are strict laws around transporting your four-legged pal in a moving vehicle. Not to mention, dogs are in just as much danger (if not more due to their size and vulnerability) as humans when it comes to car safety. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Research your state laws
Read up on the legalities within your state immediately. For example, in Hawaii, you are not allowed to drive with a dog on your lap, no matter the dog’s size or breed. And at least 14 states have laws against leaving pets unattended in a vehicle. So, before you run into the grocery store for a quick shop while Fido waits in the car (even with the windows down), make sure you’re not breaking the law. If your pet causes an accident, it’s a violation under distracted driving laws.

2. Implement crash protection measures
Dogs should be secured during travel to prevent injury from not only impact, but also sharp turns or short stops. The Center for Pet Safety recommends the following products for securing your dog: Gunner Kennel G1 Intermediate with Strength Rated Anchor Straps, the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock, the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection and the Sleepypod Clickit Utility.

Never allow your pet’s head to hang out of a car window. While the sight of a pup enjoying the breeze can be adorable, it’s not so cute if your dog suffers a traffic accident, road debris or worse. If your dog is on the smaller side and you use a pet carrier, it may seem counterintuitive, but do NOT buckle it to the seat unless the manufacturer manual clearly instructs you to do so. A carrier secured by a seat belt may actually crush the carrier in an accident. Instead, put the carrier on the floor of the vehicle behind the front passenger or driver seat.

3. Always leash upon entrance and exit
When putting your pup in the car or taking him out, always make sure he is leashed and you have a tight grip on that leash. Dogs will often take the opening of the door as an immediate cue to jump in or out. Whether you’re parked on the side of a street, or in a busy parking lot, the dog could risk getting hit by another car, running away or getting into a scuffle with another dog passing by.

4. When in doubt, be cautious
If it’s a hot day and you’re worried about leaving your dog in the car while you run an errand, don’t do it! Chances are, if it’s uncomfortably hot for you, it’s dangerous for them. On a cool day, when leaving your dog briefly unattended in the car, crack all of the windows a few inches open. And on long road trips, make sure to stop every couple of hours and take your dog out for a bathroom break and give him some water so he stays hydrated.

5. Keep a first aid kit in the car
You never know what may happen on the go with pets. To be safe, keep a box of basic medical supplies in the car. Some dogs, just like people, can get car sick. Some pets even experience stress and anxiety when riding in cars. Check with your veterinarian regarding remedies– depending on your dog’s condition, you may want to keep medications such as herbal curing pills, Dramamine and Benadryl in your kit. Other musts to include? Emergency contact numbers, tweezers and scissors for tick, insect or brush removal, cotton balls, gauze pads and bandages made specifically for dogs that won’t stick to fur, disinfectant, wound spray, saline solution to flush debris or sand out of eyes, antibacterial wipes, an old blanket or towel to dry off wet paws or mud, a second leash and extra food and treats!

Fido, the Petsetter: Air Travel Safety

Flying your dog on an airplane can seem worrisome, but rest assured that hundreds of thousands of pets fly every year, and the number of pet-related incidents is extremely low relative to the large amount of pets traveling in the great blue sky. Whether flying in-cabin as carry-on or flying in cargo (both safe and comfortable options), we’ve outlined the key steps you can take for safely and responsibly flying your dog. Follow these tips and feel good about bringing your pup on that next vacation.

Get Your Pup Accustomed To The Crate
Every pup that goes on an airplane (whether as carry-on or cargo) is required to be contained within an appropriately-sized kennel. For this reason, it’s important to acclimate your dog to the crate well in advance of her trip. To ease the stress associated with being confined to a small space for a period of time, purchase the kennel as far in advance of your trip as possible and follow the rules of crate training such as leaving the door open and encouraging entry with a chew toy or treat in order to get your pup as used to the crate as possible. Also, be sure to pay attention to your airline’s specific rules for kennels (each varies slightly). For example, United has a page dedicated to kennel guidelines. You don’t want any surprises at check-in!

Do Not Sedate Your Pup Under Any Circumstance
Even the pet owner with the best intentions may think giving their pup something to “take the edge off” is a good idea. Please stand corrected. Under no circumstance is it advised to sedate or tranquilize your pup for air travel. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that sedating pets for air travel can be fatal. Sedation is the most frequent cause of animal incidents during transport as many animals react negatively/abnormally to sedation and not much is known about the side effects of sedatives combined with high altitude and/or higher stress levels.

Make Sure Your Dog is Healthy Enough To Fly
A dog with known health issues or of senior age is more likely to respond negatively to the stress induced by flying and is at greater risk for injury. In fact, many airlines such as Delta require a health certificate within 10 days of departure before agreeing to ship a pet as cargo and have age limitations on flying pets. Not only is it often required, but it’s wise as a responsible pet owner to get your dog checked out by a licensed veterinarian and current on all vaccinations prior to travel. That’s why at PuppySpot, before any puppy ships home, we require our breeders to have a vet perform a comprehensive, nose-to-tail health exam.

Feed and Exercise Appropriately Prior To Travel
Experts advise to feed your dog approximately 4-6 hours prior to flight time, so he has enough time to digest properly and is full enough for the duration of the flight. Feeding too much and too close to the flight could cause an upset stomach while in-flight. That said, you should continue to keep your dog well-hydrated and provide water right up to the time of travel. Just be sure to empty the dish before checking the dog. A full water bowl will spill or cause unnecessary messes and excessive urination during flight. Before heading to the airport, be sure to exercise your dog with a long walk and allow her plenty of pees and poops before takeoff. Plenty of exercise will afford your dog the opportunity to burn off excess energy and therefore, rest easier during the flight.

Stay Calm and Give Your Pup The Comforts of Home
Remember, your dog feeds off of your energy. So, if you’re positive and carefree about the experience, those feelings will rub off on him and put him more at ease. To give him some extra comfort during the flight, as long as rules allow, include a familiar toy or blanket with the smells from home inside his carrier. Before he knows it, he’ll have arrived safely at his destination and be reunited with (or meet) his loving owner.

Avoid Travel in Summer and Winter Seasons
All major airlines have strict weather restrictions when it comes to flying pets, as animals can be extra sensitive to extreme heat or cold. So, to avoid any surprises, use your best judgement when booking and do not arrange travel in the dead of summer or winter to or from places that experience extreme weather conditions, as your dog will be unable to fly in very high or very low temperatures.

Be Aware of Breed Restrictions
If you own a snub-nosed breed such as a Pug, Bulldog or Boxer, you may not be able to fly your pooch on certain airlines. Due to the respiratory difficulties that some of these breeds experience due to the anatomy of their noses, some airlines such as Delta do not allow these breeds on their planes. Do your research ahead of time and make sure your chosen airline is the right fit for your dog.

The Early Pooch Gets The Worm
You know the old standard of arriving at the airport two hours ahead of your flight to leave enough time for security, checking baggage, etc.? Well the same, if not more of a conservative estimate applies to doggie travel. You don’t want to add to what can already be an anxiety-inducing experience by being late. Give you and your pup plenty of time to get situated and address any issues with TSA well ahead of departure.

With these guidelines, we hope you feel comfortable and confident in flying your pet. Plus, all major airlines offer additional measures to give you that extra peace of mind. For example, United’s PetSafe Program provides the ability to track your pets from origin to destination. And Delta‘s Variation Live Program offers temperature-controlled vans and holding areas as well as specially trained ground handlers for personalized care on the go.

And if you need someone to walk you through the pet travel process, PuppySpot prides itself on its best-in-class travel team, who will assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about your puppy flying home safe and sound.