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- Restraining your dog with a proper dog harness or crate in the back seat prevents both the dog and you from getting severely injured in a crash and keeps you both safer.
- Don’t let your dog hang their head out the window as they could be hit by close passing vehicles, be hit by debris, or try to escape out the window.
- Make sure to plan out the trip ahead of time by bringing your pup’s vaccination records, providing them with food, water, and toys, and making sure that your dog stays safe, healthy, and happy throughout the trip.
Are you getting ready to take your dog on a car trip? Whether I’m going on a cross-country trip with my dog, or simply taking him along with me to run errands, I always consider the risks and safety precautions. Before you hit the road, there are a few things pet owners can do to make keep their dog safe and secure thus allowing you to travel safely.
Restrain your dog
A restrained dog is a healthy, happy, and safe dog. Unrestrained dogs are at risk of injury or death in an accident or a sudden stop, and they can even injure human occupants of the car. In a 30 mph collision, your dog can exert a force 20 times that of their body weight! This means that if your dog weighs 25 pounds, they suddenly becomes a 500-pound weight being hurled at your head. This weight is even larger if you have a large dog that weighs anywhere from 60 to 100 pounds. Make sure your pup doesn’t sit in the front seat since that will lead to your dog getting seriously injured during a car crash. After an accident, your puppy will be scared and may flee the scene while hurt. Prevent losing your dog by giving them a proper dog safety harness and making sure you keep your dog safe whenever they are in the car with you.
A dog that is not restrained can also cause distractions. In fact, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) rates pets as the third worst cause of distracted driving (after radio/CDs and kids).
Either use a dog harness, put your dog in the best dog crate you can get that is also restrained (because you don’t want the dog and crate flying at you), or use a barrier between the rear and front of the car ride. I have a doggie car seat that I use to restrain my dog which keeps him safe and secure whenever I drive.
Note that you can not use a normal seat belt to restrain your dog. The type of harness you use must be specific to dogs. A human seat belt is made for our anatomical structure, not a four-legged dog, and thus will not provide them with enough safety. A dog safety harness protects your puppy by absorbing force and distributing the load evenly across the stronger areas of their body. Again, you should not put your pup in the front passenger seat as this can cause distractions and lead to possibly serious injury in an accident.
Check this out: Use the best wireless dog fence to restrain your dog
Don’t let your dog hang their head out the window
They may look like they’re having the time of their life—mouth wide open, fur swept back. However, this really is a danger to your pet. Other vehicles, especially larger ones like buses and trucks, may pass very close to your car, and hit your dog’s head.
Your dog is also at risk of debris such as stones, sticks, and trash hitting them in the face. Think of a pebble shattering your windshield, and then imagine the damage it could do to your dog’s eye. If your pet is unrestrained, he could even jump out the window if he gets spooked or sees something to chase (an instinct that’s hard for a dog to resist).
It’s okay to have your windows down a fraction to allow fresh air to blow in the car, but not enough to let your dog get his head out, as you don’t want your furry friend to be hurt in any way.
Keep power windows locked
Another window risk involves power or electric windows. If your pet has their head out the window and their paws on the armrest, they will likely step on the button, raising the window and trapping their head, with terrible consequences. For this reason, be sure to keep the child safety window locked in the locked position so your furry friend can’t accidentally hurt themselves.
Help your dog into and out of your car
Your pooch is at risk of injuring his spine or other joints if they have to jump a long distance to get out of or into a car door. This can apply to a small dog getting in and out of any type of vehicle, or big dogs in SUVs. Be sure to help your pooch get in and out of your car, or buy a ramp to help them up and down since you don’t want them to accidentally hit or hurt anything when they try to get out of the car.
Don’t break the law
In some states, you will be breaking the law if your pooch is not tethered in your vehicle. Make sure to provide them with the proper restraints and safety gear to keep them safe and to make sure you don’t get pulled over. Pet safety is a huge priority in some states and it should be for you too.
Keep your pet safe in pickup trucks
If you drive a pickup truck, put your dog in a crate in the truck bed with dog restraints. Secure the pet’s crate with bungee cords or something similar to prevent it from sliding, rolling, or falling out of the trunk bed. A crate will also protect your pooch from flying debris and the weather, thus making sure they are safe and secure during the drive.
Tying Fido’s dog leash to the truck bed can be deadly if they jump or fall overboard so make sure that you take the proper precautions to guarantee your furry friend’s safety.
Safe Travel With Dogs in Cars: Keep Your Pet Healthy and Happy
While a road trip can be fun, a successful trip with your pooch is possible if you get everything ready ahead of time. Here are some helpful tips for going on a trip with your pup in tow:
Your car must be safe and comfortable for you and the dog
- If you have a back seat in your car, make sure to put down a dog bed for the pup to lie on. This will make sure your back passenger seat is free of accidents and fur. This will also make the process of cleaning up after the trip a lot easier. You should also put up a dog barrier in the back seat to reduce the. chances of your pup moving around the car if they get free of their dog safety harness.
- The car should also have tinted windows because dogs are sensitive to sunlight, heat, and cold. If the trip takes place during one of the colder months, make sure to take along a blanket for the pet to lie on or a dog coat.
- Make sure your car is pet friendly by taking along a food and water bowl, as well as indestructible dog toys to play with so your pup doesn’t ruin your car and so you don’t engage in distracted driving.
The trip should be planned out ahead of time
- Know where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there. The trip should be no longer than 5-6 hours in order to prevent road fatigue and stress on the pet. The more stressed your dog is, the harder the drive is going to be.
- Know what dog food, water, and treats you need to bring along with you.
- Make sure to have plenty of time to stop for potty breaks and for your dog to. get some fresh air.
Bring along your dog’s vaccination records
If your dog-friendly drive takes place when it’s cold or during rush hour, you’ll want to have proof of your pet’s vaccinations in case they need to be seen by a veterinarian. This is also true if you are crossing country lines since your pet will not be able to cross the border if they don’t meet all the vaccination requirements for that country.
Crate or harness your Pup
If you’re not comfortable having the pet roam free in the car, put them in a crate or dog harness. This will keep him safe and secure during the drive as well as remove extra distractions.
Bring along toys, treats, and water
Make sure to pack along your dog’s favorite toys and snacks. Bring along their bowl for food and water so they can eat and drink on a long drive, especially if you are traveling to a warm place. Before you hit the road with your best friend, make sure gas stations and grocery stores are on your list of pit stops so you can get anything your pup needs if necessary.
Make car rides fun
Before driving to the Grand Canyon, take the time to show your pet that car rides are fun. You can do this by playing car games with them or taking them on car rides to the dog park or beach.
Never leave him in a hot car
When you leave your dog unattended in a hot car, a dog-friendly trip becomes anything but, as it can cause serious harm to your dog . You can schedule your gas station stops along your trip so that your dog can stretch their legs, too. You could go to the Dixie National Forest, state parks, and national parks and forests so your dog can spend some time in a cooler space. Just double-check that they are dog-friendly before making a reservation.
Make a copy of his medical records.
You should bring a copy of your dog’s medical documents with you in case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to keep them on your phone and have physical copies on hand in case you wind up in a region with poor mobile phone coverage.
More safety tips to enjoy long trips with your dog
- Don’t play with, feed, or pet your dog while you’re driving as it increases the chances of your dog having increased stress.
- Never drive with your pooch on your lap or in the passenger seat.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car with the keys in the ignition, since they may activate the door lock and lock you out.
- Dog owners, try to position your dog in the car so that they do not block your view. This means they should never be in the front seat and they should be placed off to the side in the back seat.
- Hand sanitizer should be kept out of their reach.
- Keep your pet on a short leash and stay on the people- and dog-friendly hiking trails when you get out of the car.
- If your car has airbags, don’t let your pet sit in the passenger car seat since they could be injured or even killed if the airbag is activated.
- Don’t feed your dog a big dinner right before you leave and get in the car, mainly if your dog is prone to motion sickness.
- Maintain your car seat cover clean and free of pet fur. It can minimize distractions while driving.
- Bring a first-aid kit for your pet in case they get injured or sick during the trip.
Travel safety should be the biggest priority when taking your pup on a trip. Pet parents should keep these suggestions and plan their road trip with a dog. You should also make a packing list to make sure you have everything you need for both the dog and you. By doing so, you’ll enjoy traveling with your pet.