It’s safe to say that most people love their pets so much that they are considered a part of the family. They make us laugh, show us unconditional love, and make every single day just a little bit brighter. This role is even more important if your pet is a certified ESA.
Although it may seem at times that your ESA is taking care of you, it’s important to remember that they need to be taken care of too, both at home and on the road. Whether you take your pet on a short trip to the pet store or on a several hour road trip, there are some things you should consider before even leaving your house. And while no one wants to leave their pet alone in the car, sometimes it happens - and when it comes down to it it’s best to be prepared and know the repercussions.
There are a number of concerns related to leaving pets in cars. The most common mistake made is keeping pets alone in the car when it’s too hot or too cold outside. It’s important to note that the temperature outside rarely reflects the same temperature inside the vehicle. For example, if it is 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside the car can reach up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you imagine how hot it can get if it’s 90 or 100 degrees outside, parked directly facing the sun? Not to mention the increased danger of having leather seats.
To avoid this scenario, the safest bet is to leave your pet at home if you plan on running multiple errands. If leaving them alone - or driving around alone - is unavoidable, park the car in the shade with a water bowl for your pet to drink from. Try to only stay gone for a few moments, and if possible, leave the car running or have another passenger stay behind to watch your pet until you get back.
Another safety concern that many don’t consider is other people. Passionate animal lovers often misunderstand situations and are likely to take preventative action to “save” your pet. This could mean calling the police. Or, even worse, it could result in broken car windows, angry crowds, and dealing with petnappers intent on “rescuing” your furry friend. This is especially awful if you drive a luxury vehicle and you don't want to find a smashed window.
On the other end of the spectrum, strangers pose as a threat to your pet’s wellbeing when they misunderstand body language. Although your pet must be recognized as an appropriate breed to become a certified ESA, pets are still animals, and may be unpredictable when approached by a stranger. Leaving your pet in the car with the window down may encourage animal lovers to come and reach into your car to pet your ESA, which may elicit your pet to act defensively. This is why it’s best to travel with a buddy so someone can be with the animal at all times and not risk an unpredictable event.
Just like any passenger in a car, a pet needs to be comfortable during a car trip. That means having enough space for them to stand up and turn around to see out windows. If you think that sitting in the exact same spot for hours on end is not your idea of a good time, chances are your pet feels the same. Cars with third row seating are sometimes the best for having more than one pet in the car.And, of course, the type of animal your ESA is will affect what size of car you should consider having. Chihuahuas will need a lot less space that a golden retriever, and a cat in a cage will need even less.
If the trip is short and your pet is accustomed to being in the car, you most likely won’t need a crate. However, if they tend to be antsy or roam around a lot (like cats), it’s best to get a crate that’s big enough for them to travel in. Place a cushy pet bed on the bottom of the crate for extra padding, and maybe even their favorite toy to keep them occupied. However, it is important to remember that a pet should never be left alone in a crate in the car. There is not enough ventilation being in two boxes at once, and they may suffer from heat stroke or lack of oxygen.
Summers can get extremely hot depending on where you live as well. A good tip for the hot months is to give your pet a short haircut to get rid of any excess hair to reduce the chance of overheating.
When humans travel by car, we often listen to music, chat with a passenger, or simply focus on driving. For an animal, being in a car can be uneventful and dull. Your dog may enjoy car rides a lot more than your cat, but having other things to keep them entertained will be much appreciated.
Take open windows for example. We’ve all seen the happy pups with their heads hanging out of the window as we pull up to a stop light. Sometime just having a little tim to breath fresh air and bark at the next car over can be the joy of a lifetime.
Cats, however, may not enjoy the rushing air hanging out of a window. Consider bringing along a toy or some catnip for them to enjoy. They’ll have even more fun if a car passenger (not the driver!) plays with them during the drive.This will keep their brain working and keep them occupied while you drive for a longer period of time.
Longer car rides with pets should also mean more breaks. Plan to stop in areas that they can also get out and roam around a little. Consider trying out a cat leash, and always make sure your pets have proper identification in case they get separated.
Making your pets feel safe and comfortable is just as important as leaving a human passenger behind. Also keep in mind that in many states it is illegal. If an animal is unattended in a vehicle that endangers their health or well being due to heat, cold, lack of ventilation, lack of food or water - it could lead to suffering, disability, or even death.
However, if the weather is cool enough and you take all the safety, comfort, and entertainment precautions, you and your ESA will have a wonderful time in the car together. There’s no reason to go anywhere alone - as long as you come prepared.