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Whether you’re going on a cross-country road trip with a dog or simply taking your pooch along with you to run errands or, here are some risks and safety precautions to consider.
Restrain your dog
Unrestrained dogs are at risk of injury or death in an accident, 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 his body weight! This means that if your dog weighs 25 pounds, he suddenly becomes a 500-pound weight being hurled at your head in an accident. After an accident, your puppy will be scared and may flee the scene. Prevent losing your dog by restraining him in the car.
A dog that is not restrained can also cause distractions. In fact, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) rates pets as the third worst distraction in cars (after radio/CDs and kids).
Either use a 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.
Note that the type of harness you use must be specific for dogs. A human seatbelt is made for our anatomical structure, not a four-legged dog. A pet restraint/harness protects your puppy by absorbing force and distributing the load evenly across the stronger areas of his body.
Check this out: Use the best wireless dog fence to restrain your dog
Dont let your dog hang his head out the window
He may look like he’s having the time of his life—mouth wide open, fur swept back. But 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 him 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 thats hard to resist).
Its 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.
Keep power windows locked
Another window risk involves power or electric windows. If your pet has his head out the window and his paws on the arm rest, he will likely step on the button, raising the window and trapping his head, with terrible consequences. For this reason, be sure to keep the child safety window lock in the locked position.
Help your dog into and out of your car
Your pooch is at risk of injuring his spine or other joints if he has to jump a long distance to get out of or into your car. This can apply to small dogs 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.
Dont break the law
In some states, you will be breaking the law if your Pooch is not tethered in your vehicle.
Keep your pet safe in pickup trucks
If you drive a pickup truck, put your dog in a crate in the truck bed. Secure the crate with bungee cords or something similar to prevent it from sliding or rolling. A crate will also protect your pooch from flying debris and the weather.
Tying Fido’s dog leash to the truck bed can be deadly if he jumps or falls overboard.
Safe Travel With Dogs in Cars: Keep Your Pet Healthy and Happy
While a road trip can be fun, a successful road trip with your pooch are possible if you get everything ready ahead of time. Here are some helpful tips for road tripping 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.
- The car should also have tinted windows because dogs are sensitive to sunlight, heat, and cold. If the road trip takes place during one of the colder months, make sure to take along a blanket for the pet to lie on.
- Make sure your car is pet friendly by taking along a food and water bowl, as well as indestructible dog toys to play with.
The road 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.
- Know what dog food, water, and treats you need to bring along with you.
Bring along your dog’s vaccination records
If your dog-friendly open road trip takes place when it’s cold or during a rush hour, you’ll want to have proof of your dog’s vaccinations in case they need to be seen by a veterinarian.
Crate or harness your Pup
If you’re not comfortable having the pet roam free in the car, put him in a crate or harness. This will keep him safe and secure during the drive.
Bring along toys, treats, and water
Make sure to pack along your dog’s favorite toys and snacks. If you want, bring along his bowl for food and water so he can eat on a road trip. Before you hit the road with your best friend, make sure gas stations and grocery stores are on your list of pit stops.
Make road trips fun
Before road trips to Grand Canyon, take the time to show your pet that car rides are fun. You can do this by playing road trip games with him or taking him on car rides to the dog park or beach.
Never leave him in a hot car
When you leave your dog in a hot car, a dog-friendly road trip becomes anything but . You can schedule your gas station stops along your trip so that your dog can stretch his legs, too. You could go to the Dixie National Forest, state parks, and national parks and forests. But 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 road trips with your dog
- Don’t play with, feed, or pet your dog while you’re driving.
- Never drive with your pooch on your lap.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car with the keys in the ignition, since he may activate the door lock and lock you out.
- Dog owners, try to position your dog in the car so that he does not block your view.
- 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.
- If your car has airbags, don’t let your pet sit in the passenger car seat since he 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 distraction while driving.
- Bring a first-aid kit for your pet.
Keep these suggestions and plan your road trip with a dog well with an important packing list before you hit the road. By doing so, you’ll enjoy traveling with your pet.