By Amy Tokic,
Being pet parents, we wouldn’t want to exclude our beloved furry family member from the holiday celebrations. It’s hard to find someone who can take care of your dog while you’re away during the holiday season, as most people are busy with their own celebrations. The only feasible solution for many of us is to bring our four-legged friend along for the festivities.
We are often reminded every summer of the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car, but there is significantly less information available about traveling with a dog in the winter. If you’re planning to travel with your dog this winter, remember to take into account certain factors to ensure their comfort and safety.
While we can bundle up in hats, scarves, gloves and coats to stay warm during winter, dogs rely on a slightly thicker coat to insulate them from the cold. Even with the car’s heater on, in the back of the vehicle, where your dog is sitting, tends to be cooler. Consider investing in a dog jacket, especially for smaller dogs or those more sensitive to cold. A blanket in the car’s back seat can also serve as added warmth for your pet.
Cold-Weather Hazards: Frostbite and Hypothermia
There are numerous warnings and campaigns about the dangers of extreme heat on pets. However, extended exposure to cold weather can also have severe consequences! Pets left in the cold for too long can suffer from frostbite or hypothermia, conditions that can prove fatal if not promptly addressed.
Frostbite primarily affects the extremities, such as your dog’s paws, ears, and tail. While your dog’s core can retain warmth for longer, these areas are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. If your dog is left in a cold car, it won’t be long before he or she starts to feel the cold. Eventually, even the body’s core temperature will succumb to the chilly external temperatures. That’s why you shouldn’t leave your dog in the vehicle for extended periods of time.
A Cozy Sleep Space
Safety shouldn’t compromise comfort when traveling with your pet. Dog crates or harnesses can comfortably accommodate blankets or bedding for your pet’s comfort. Provide soft, warm blankets to shield your dog from the harsh winter cold. This can include fleece-lined blankets or self-warming beds. By enhancing your pet’s comfort, you can mitigate their reluctance to travel in winter. It’s a beneficial situation for all holiday season travelers.
No Festive Feasting
Before heading off on a journey, it’s important not to overfeed your dog. Consuming a large meal just before travelling increases the likelihood of them experiencing motion sickness. Rather, it’s best to stop giving your dog food around two hours prior to departure, and hold off until you’ve reached your destination. Once your furry friend has had a chance to adjust to the new environment, you can gradually reintroduce food to prevent any upset stomach.
Most of us are aware of the importance of wearing seatbelts to protect ourselves during a car accident. Similarly, the safety of your dog in the car is just as crucial. Cars don’t typically come equipped with safety features for pets, so it’s important to invest in items like a dog car cage, a dog safety harness, or a dog guard. Not only do these items protect your dog, but they also help prevent distractions while driving by keeping your dog from moving to the front of the car or onto your lap.
Even the most well-behaved dog can become excited or nervous during a car ride. This could lead to them becoming travel sick, needing to use the bathroom without being able to indicate it, or potentially causing damage to the car interior due to excitement. To mitigate these risks, consider investing in a waterproof car protector for any journeys you take with your dog. To help your dog adjust to the protector, let them spend some time with it at home before your first trip. Placing familiar toys or blankets in the car protector can provide a sense of comfort and familiarity, making the journey less stressful for your dog.
Make sure that your holiday road trip begins and ends in the most festive way possible – by being prepared for any eventuality.