SPCA New Zealand

Protect your pet from a ruff car ride these holidays

27 June 2018
Protect your pet from a ruff car ride these holidays

Southern Cross Pet Insurance and the SPCA are calling on pet owners to keep their animals safe every time they take them in a vehicle, particularly in the lead up to the school holidays.

The two organisations, which have been working in partnership since 2015 to promote responsible pet ownership, are making the plea because Southern Cross Pet Insurance has paid 16 claims over the past two years for pets being injured while in vehicles. Two of those claims involved dogs falling out of cars, each costing more than $3000 in vet treatment.

Some pets find travel stressful, or can even suffer from motion sickness during a car ride.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen encourages all animal owners to take their pet’s safety and happiness into consideration before going on any trip.

“All animals should be transported in a way that ensures their physical wellbeing. We suggest dog owners use a secured and safe crate, and cat owners keep them contained in a carry cage,” Midgen says.

“If you’re heading out of town, make sure you stop every two or three hours for your animal to stretch, toilet and drink.

“Some pets find travel stressful, or can even suffer from motion sickness during a car ride. In these cases, the SPCA suggests owners seek advice from their veterinarian on how to ease their pet’s worries before making travel plans.”

Southern Cross Pet Insurance General Manager Anthony McPhail says people don’t think twice about making sure their children are wearing seatbelts and our furry friends deserve the same.

“If you’re taking your pet on a road trip you can keep them safe and avoid thousands of dollars in vet bills by ensuring your furry family member is safely secured in a moving vehicle,” McPhail says.

“Nobody wants to have their holiday spoiled by having their beloved pet injured. Pet insurance is another safety measure for the things you can’t predict, especially since there’s no public health system for animals.”

Top tips for transporting your pets:

  • If possible, try to get your pet used to being transported before any long trips to reduce stress. This can be done through gentle and patient training of the animal in the vehicle, making sure their experience is positive. Introduce them to short trips first. Build up to longer trips slowly and only when your pet is ready and coping well.
  • Pets can easily jump out of a vehicle’s windows, so keep windows up or just slightly open. A rule of thumb: if your pet can get their head out then they can get completely out!
  • The safest way for a dog to travel in a vehicle is contained in a crate that has been securely anchored. An alternative is to use a properly fitted dog harness that has passed safety-tests and is securely attached to the vehicle as directed by the manufacturer.
  • If transporting a cat, keep them contained in a carry cage that is partially covered to make them feel more at ease; as cats can easily become scared in a car. The carrier must be ventilated and safely secured so it does not move around and hurt your cat.
  • Pets should be kept in the back seat of the car, rather than the front. This will prevent them from being injured if an airbag deploys.
  • Ask your vet how to make trips more comfortable for your pet. For example, animals that get motion sickness or are anxious during a drive can be given medications to help them. There are also pheromone-based products that may help cats and dogs feel more relaxed.
  • Stop frequently during longer trips to allow your dog to exercise and go to the toilet. When leaving the car with your dog, they should always have a collar, ID tag, registration, and leash on.
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