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How to Keep You and Your Pet Safe in an Auto Emergency Guest Blog Courtesy Review.com

Remy Bibaud | 15 December, 2020

            Traveling With Pet Tips for Insurance and Keeping Safe

"With the holidays quickly approaching, it's estimated that about one-third of us will bring our pets along for the ride. While it is not legally required for pets to be secured in a vehicle, the same safety risks apply to our furry friends if involved in an accident. That is why Million Mile Secrets created a pet travel safety resource that includes precautionary measures to keep in mind, potential auto emergencies, and what actions to take if involved in an accident."

Blog shared with permission – original blog with links to resources is found on Reviews.com 

We certainly hope that those of you traveling this holiday season arrive safely at your destinations. We also know traveling with pets creates its own set of challenges.

That said…

You may be a good, responsible driver, but accidents happen. Auto insurance may give you peace of mind when hitting the road, but does that protection cover your pets? Remember, “hoomans” aren’t the only ones that can get hurt during an auto emergency. Pets are just as vulnerable to sustaining injuries caused by car accidents as we are, so whether you are making a quick trip to the vet or taking your pet along on a fun-filled road trip, you need to be sure they are as protected as you are.


Pet safety and driving safety tips go a long way in avoiding damage or injury during auto emergencies. However, when push comes to shove, can you rely on auto or pet insurance to cover the costs involved?  

Possible emergency situations with pets in your car are endless. We have covered some of the most common scenarios in this article.

Most dogs absolutely love the open road. Once that window is down, that head pops out, and it’s all ears and tongues flapping in the wind. But have you considered the potential dangers of letting your dog hang its head out the window? Debris, insects, and other foreign objects can cause havoc when they hit your dog’s eyes, ears, or mouth. Things can go very wrong for your dog when something hits them at the right angle or speed. Open car windows also create an opportunity for your pet to jump or fall out of the vehicle. Obviously, once a pet has fallen out or jumped from an open car window, your pet faces serious dangers that are entirely out of your control. The pet could get hit by oncoming traffic or run away and get lost.

Choking on treats or toys is another danger your pet faces. You may think treats and chew toys are great for distracting your pet in the car, but dogs are as likely to choke on foreign objects while driving as they are anywhere else. The only difference is you may not notice your attention is focused on the road.

AAA sponsored survey found an estimated 16% of pet owners traveling with their pets do not use any form of restraints. This number is way too high considering what an easy precaution restraining a pet in a car is.

An accident or other emergencies are scary for everyone, including your pet. If your pet was not restrained, chances are they might be startled and run away after the accident. This, of course, causes an additional string of problems. The first danger of a scared dog fleeing a scene is oncoming traffic.

The second problem is you cannot give an injured dog potentially life-saving treatment when they run away. The more time that passes after a dog is injured, the worse off the injuries. 

Lastly, there is the normal combination of traffic and animals roaming the streets providing a recipe for disaster. An animal in the road poses a safety threat to itself, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. If your dog is the cause of damage to people or their property, things can get quite complicated once the insurance companies get involved.

If you and your pet are in an auto collision, and your pet runs away, stay calm. Do not blindly run after your pet, as you’ll be at risk from being hit by oncoming traffic. Note which direction your pet is heading in, and when safe, follow the direction your pet ran.  Shouting your dog’s name will only scare them more, so use a gentle tone to coax them back to you or lure them with treats or toys if you have them at hand.

If your pet does get lost, your first port of call is social media. Post pictures of your pet on local “lost & found” groups and animal welfare pages with a description of your pet, where they were last seen, and your contact details. Visit animal shelters daily and look for your pet. Print “lost” flyers (preferably waterproof) and hand them out in the area. Give a copy to law enforcement agencies, veterinarians, animal care or control officials, and local businesses.

If your dog has a microchip, remember to visit the website with which you registered your pet’s microchip and list your pet as “missing.”

Snow, heavy rainfall, sleet, and heavy winds also often cause road accidents. Traveling in many parts of the country during the holiday season presents one or more of these weather-related driving conditions. Driving in bad weather means slippery roads, reduced visibility, extreme temperatures, and the potential danger of getting stuck in a traffic standstill for prolonged periods of time.

When traveling we are in and out of our car for gas, rest stops or food. Locking your pet in the car (along with your keys) potentially creates a dangerous situation, especially in extreme weather conditions. It takes mere minutes for a car to heat up to the point that an animal may suffocate due to lack of oxygen. And if you are out of the car for too long in freezing temps, your pet may become too chilled. If your pet is locked in the car, you need to get a window open, even if that means smashing it. A dog trapped in a hot car needs hydration and to be cooled down (slowly). Those traveling in colder climates will need the shelter of their car for the human travelers too. Take an extra key with you when traveling and place it in your pocket. This way you’ve reduced the chances of locking the keys and a pet in the car!

According to cold water submersion expert Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, the simple mantra “Seatbelts, Windows, Out (Children First)” can save your (and your pet’s) life if you find yourself off the road and (heaven forbid) sliding into a body of water!

  • Seatbelts: Take your seatbelt off the moment you hit the water.
  • Window: If you cannot open the windows, break them. Always go for the driver or passenger windows first. (Carry a tool made for breaking windows in the car. This is a worthy purchase as the glass in cars is meant to be hard to break by normal measures.)
  • Out (Children First): Unbuckle kids (oldest to youngest) and your pets then push them out of the open window.

Call 911 first in the event of an emergency. If your pet is injured, call your vet or emergency animal hospital and then once everyone is cared for, contact your auto insurance company to file a claim.


Before traveling this year, check to see if your pet is covered by your auto insurance. If not, you can always investigate pet insurance.

Auto insurance companies that do cover pets may be referenced at Review.com

You may see your pets as fur children, but in the eyes of the law, pets are property, which does make them very “insurable.” When a pet gets injured in an auto accident or emergency, that pet is considered “damaged property,” and someone is always liable to pay for those damages. Whether you or someone else caused the accident, hopefully, there is an insurance policy in play that will cover the damages. Even if neither policy has specific pet coverage, unless they specifically exclude “pets” in the fine print, you may be able to successfully submit a claim. 

Knowing the details of your auto insurance plan can provide peace of mind when it comes to protecting your pets. Part of being a responsible pet owner is taking precautions to keep you and your pet safe in the car.

Here are some tips from “The Bark” that can help:

  • Use a harness seatbelt
  • Secure them with a zipline harness
  • Make them travel in a crate
  • Put them in a plush carry box
  • Use a dog guard in the back of the car
  • Put a pet hammock on the back seat
  • Use a backseat barrier

Have a designated person on standby who can take care of your dog in case you have to go to the hospital. Keep a “My pet needs help!” card in your purse with their contact details on it so that emergency services know who to call. Even with insurance, additional costs can come up if your pet was injured in an accident and needs extensive treatment. To prevent having to surrender your pet due to lack of finances, set aside some money for unexpected vet bills.

In case of an emergency, your pet may need first aid. It only takes a little time and effort to get a first aid kit together for your pet, and being prepared can save your pet’s life.

  • Basic pet first aid kit medical supplies
  • Blanket
  • Bottled water
  • Collapsible food and water bowl
  • Collar, leash, harness, and spare id tag
  • Emergency contacts
  • Flashlight
  • Medications your dog needs
  • Pet treats and food
  • Current photo of your pet
  • Vet booklet with vaccination records, your pet’s medical history, and their microchip number
  • Pet CPR cheat sheet

Pet parents only want what is best for their fur-kids. But even those of us with the best intentions can let simple plans and preparations fall through the cracks. We live in a world where there is much we have little or no control over. What we can control, however, is how prepared we are to handle situations life throws at us.

All we need is a plan.

A little preparation before heading out this holiday goes a long way.

Be safe. Stay well. Happy traveling~

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