Michael Morgan of Seattle has a very simple rule when it comes to travel: If his dog Myles, a 25-pound Puggle, isn’t welcome, neither is he.
The 35-year-old real estate investment executive is among the 62 percent of Americans who own at least one pet, according to the Humane Society of the United States, and thanks to the collective $50 billion they spend annually on their four-legged family members, destinations once off limits now welcome well-behaved pets.
In fact, a study last year by AAA and a major hotel chain revealed more than half of U.S. dog and cat owners said they take their cats and dogs when they travel.
So whether it’s a scenic color tour or a holiday sojourn to relatives, it’s reigning cats and dogs in Chevrolets this fall.
Before you go, there are some things to consider, according to PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) Chicago, the city’s largest no-kill shelter, and other pet experts.
Traveling with dogs
Not all canines can handle road trips, so it’s best to take a few practice runs before a major journey.
- *Restrain dogs during car trips for their safety and yours. Some states require this. Options include restraints, pet carriers and cargo barriers. The Chevrolet Equinox’s spacious cargo area can accommodate a good-size pet carrier and consumers can find specialized pet restraints for use in rear seats. Never let a pet ride in front because it could be seriously injured or killed if an air bag deploys.
- *As with children, never leave any pet alone in the car. On a warm, sunny day, even with the windows open, a parked vehicle can become dangerously hot in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, pets can experience hyperthermia. Furthermore, unattended pets can be stolen. If you see a pet in distress, Equinox owners with active OnStar can alert the authorities or animal control.
- *For dogs with anxiety issues or who bark a lot, try a chew treat to keep them occupied. Chewing and licking are very soothing to dogs, and may help yours relax. The optional cargo organizer in the Equinox has space for toys and treats, as do the multiple storage pockets in the doors.
- *Identify dog-friendly restaurants, hotels and dog parks on your travel route. For OnStar subscribers, an advisor can help locate pet-friendly establishments.
- *Some people snacks – like chocolate – can be fatal to dogs. If your dog gets into something dangerous, OnStar can connect you with Poison Control or send you to the nearest emergency vet.
Once you get to your destination, there is another important step to ensure your dog’s safety.
“Make sure you keep your dog on a leash while they explore your new destination,” says Joan L. Harris, PAWS Chicago director of training and canine behavior. “Even a well-trained dog may feel out of place until they are comfortable in a new location.”
Before the fur flies
Here are some prep steps to help ensure a great trip.
- *Make sure your pet is current on vaccinations and, depending on where you’re headed, get additional ones to protect against new threats such as canine Lyme disease. Find and program the number of a 24-hour emergency vet. That way, he or she is no more than a voice command away, thanks to the Equinox’s available MyLink infotainment system when paired with a compatible mobile device.
- *In case you become separated from your pet, carry a current photo. A microchip is also a good idea, as well as a collar with a cell number. Never allow your dog to leave the vehicle without the collar, ID tag and leash.
Traveling with cats
Scratch these items off the list before you travel with felines:
- *Use a pet carrier or cargo barrier. Unrestrained pets can be injured in a crash or pose a risk of injury to other vehicle occupants.
- *Familiarize your car by allowing your cat to cheek rub and spread its scent. Or try placing a bed, blanket or a towel inside the car.
- *Consider packing a portable litter box, collapsible food and water bowls and feline first aid kits. An old scratching post you won’t mind discarding can also help keep cats calm.
- *To help prevent dehydration, especially on summer trips, try freezing a bowl of water that cats can lick to keep cool. It is a less messy option for traveling with water.
If your pet can’t join you, a rear passenger can video chat back home or to the kennel, courtesy of the available built-in OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connection in the 2015 Equinox. Up to seven compatible devices can connect to the 4G LTE connection at one time, allowing the entire family to check in.