Many people want to take their dogs along with them no matter where they go, and sometimes that requires a ride in the car. As a pet parent, you want to make sure your furry friend is safe and comfortable at all times. Check out these helpful tips to make your next trip a smooth, safe ride for both you and your dog.
Hitting the open road with your furry friend, whether it’s a quick trip or a long haul, should be an enjoyable experience. And just as with any fun activity, it’s a good idea to have a few dog car safety measures in place. Even if you’re just driving across town to get to the dog park, there are safety rules, tips and tricks that should always be in place to protect your pup and make the experience fun for both of you.
Unlike us, most dogs didn’t grow up in the backseat of a car. As a result, many dogs don’t cope well inside a moving vehicle at first, even if they’re not naturally prone to motion sickness. To combat nausea and motion sickness, particularly before long trips, do not feed your dog within six hours of departure. Also, make sure the meal is a light meal so that they won’t have much food in their stomach.
Depending on the severity of the issue, you can also talk to your veterinarian about medication to help your dog avoid car sickness. It’s important to always check with your vet before administering any type of medication to your dog. Human medication can have a severe, negative effect on your pup’s system.
No matter how cute it seems when you drive past cars with dogs sticking their head out of the window, ears flapping in the wind, it’s actually incredibly dangerous for dogs to be unrestrained in the car. As a good rule of thumb, if you’re wearing a seatbelt, your dog should be, too.
When driving, secure your dog in the car with a traveling harness or keep them in a kennel. This way, your pup won’t distract the driver, and you can feel good knowing they will be safe in case of an accident. As den animals, dogs often feel safer in their kennel and will be less anxious during the ride if they’re contained.
In addition to keeping your dog in a harness or crate, make sure to do your research to find the best possible options for keeping your pup safe. Just like you wouldn’t purchase a car without airbags and other safety essentials, some crates and harnesses are more rigorously tested to protect your dog. Look for crash-tested restraints and kennels that are well-reviewed by purchasers.
NOTE: Your dog should never ride in the back of a pickup truck, particularly if they are unrestrained. If left untethered, your pup could jump from the truck or be thrown, leading to serious injury or death. If you must travel with your dog in the bed of a truck, keep them in their kennel and secure the kennel to the truck.
All arguments about “dog parents” aside, when your dog is in the car, they need as much attention and preparation as a child. For example, you will rarely, if ever, see a parent out and about with their kid without some sort of diaper bag or emergency kit in tow. Children are prone to making messes, hurting themselves and just getting bored. The same is true for your pup, especially the younger they are.
Put together a travel bag for your dog that you can bring along wherever you go. Prep it with basic necessities like an extra leash, tags, poop bags, treats and water. For longer trips that take you and your dog farther from home, it helps to keep veterinary documents with you in case of an emergency.
Keep your doggie travel bag by the front door or in the car so you can grab it whenever you’re heading out together. Even if you’re just heading over to a friend’s house, taking along some essentials will keep you prepared for any situation.
Beyond an emergency, consider all the things in the car that your dog could accidentally do to distract you while driving. If you have child locks that you can turn on in your car, do so to prevent your pup from accidentally opening a car door. Turn off your power windows, as well, since some dogs have been known to jump out of car windows when excited.
NOTE: If you drive a convertible, it is especially important to keep your dog restrained as they have many opportunities to jump out of the car and risk injury.
NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a hot day. Even if a day doesn’t seem too hot, in a confined place full of windows like your car, temperatures can quickly skyrocket, reaching over 100 degrees in around 10 minutes. Your dog could easily suffer heatstroke or worse if left trapped in these conditions.