By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
Some areas of the country have been dealing with snow for some time, but winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21. Whether you’ve been in a deep freeze or whether your winters remain temperate, I have some tips for how to travel safely with your pets in winter.
Pet Calendar: How To Travel Safely With Your Pets In Winter
Traveling with pets, regardless of the weather poses unique challenges and that can be amped up if you have more than one pet and more than one species with you. When I take a road trip, it typically is to our house that is is close to four hours away and involves traveling with either one or two dogs and always with two cats. It sometimes feels it takes me more time to get everyone packed up safely in the car than it does to drive the four hours!
- Make certain your pets have gone to the bathroom before you leave. I put the Devon Rexes back in and by the litter boxes and hope (fingers crossed) that they use them. We have been making the trip for about a year and a half and so far no kitty accidents in the car. I do have a folding litter box from Sturdi Products and some kitty litter in a spill proof container in case the need arises. How I would maneuver letting the cats out of the carrier and get them into the litter box is a logistic I haven’t quite figured out yet, but assume I will if the need arises. The dogs do their business, but if they don’t it is easy enough to pull off the highway and let them go in a patch of grass.
- Put everyone into a doggie seatbelt or in a safety carrier. The cats are in a carrier which seatbelts into the car for safety. The dogs have safety harnesses into which they are snapped.
- I make certain the cats have blankets in their carrier and they wear sweaters in the winter. I have additional blankets in the trunk of my car in case of emergency. I also have those aluminum foil-looking space blankets that are supposed to trap heat in the car in case we get stranded and need to stay warm.
- I have an additional charger for my phone in the car and my phone is always fully charged before I head out on any trips.
- I have a foldable shovel in the trunk in case we get stuck in a snow bank.
- Food and water is packed into the car for all of the animals.
- Listen to the weather forecast for not only the area which is your ultimate destination, but the areas through which you will drive. When I head up to Alexandria Bay, the weather there is sometimes vastly different than the towns of Fulton, Oswego and Mexico that I will drive through. I have to track all of those areas and if it doesn’t look safe, I don’t go. I also need to keep in mind that the last leg of my trip is on an expressway which is bordered by open fields — it can lead to white out conditions and unsafe driving. If you don’t have to make a trip through bad weather, don’t.
- Know where you could potentially stop for the night if the weather won’t permit you to get to your destination. Check for hotels and motels along your route and make certain they will allow you to stay with your pets. The areas I drive through are typically too small to accommodate a hotel or motel so I would have to make a bit of a detour through Oswego to get to a hotel and that might not make sense — again, safety always comes first.
- If it’s a long trip, plan to stop and let your dogs stretch their legs. You may be comfortable driving for hours without a stop, but your pets may appreciate the break. When we travel we rarely stop, though, because Murray doesn’t like the car and once he settles down, we don’t want to disturb him.
- Let friends and family know when you’re leaving and when you should arrive. Text them when you get to your destination. If you can’t make it to your destination, text and let them know where you’re staying. Obviously, don’t text and drive, regardless of the season.
- For safety’s sake, stay home if possible if bad weather is predicted. In New York, I know that weather can change with the gust of the wind and it can make winter weather travel treacherous. I don’t want to put my beloved pets in harm’s way so I will opt to stay home and cancel plans rather than trek through potentially dangerous roads with my furry family.
What are your best winter travel safety tips?