From the very necessary trips to the vet or more fun places like daycare, hiking, and even vacation, there will be times when you need your pup to get in the car with you. Just like you want to keep any passenger comfortable and safe, the same will go for your pup. Learn the best ways to protect your pet while traveling by car.
Unsafe ways to let your dog ride in the car
While we like to keep things positive, we’re going to start with all of the things you don’t want to do (or allow your pet to do) in the car. If you are a new pet owner, don’t let your pet try any of these things or you may develop some bad travel habits:
1. In your lap
Having your pup in your lap when you drive is unsafe for multiple reasons. The first of which is that your pup may distract you from keeping your focus on the road. This could potentially cause an accident. Another reason you don’t want your pup riding in your lap is that if you need to stop short or get hit, they are not in a safe position or restrained and could be injured. Depending on the size and height of your dog, they risk going through the windshield which at best will be painful and cause injuries and at worst could be fatal.
2. In the front (passenger's seat)
Riding shotgun is almost as dangerous as having your pup in your lap. From the risk of airbag injury to the risk of going through the windshield in a collision, it is not worth letting your pup sit in the front seat. Similar to how you don’t want young children to ride up front, dogs, no matter the size really shouldn’t either. Airbags and safety features are tested for human anatomy, not our pups so it’s best to have them ride in the back seat.
We know all the pups hanging their head out of car windows are quite adorable, but in reality this practice can be dangerous. The American Veterinary Medical Association warns pet parents to have their pups keep their heads in the vehicle at all times to avoid the risk of injuries to the head, ears, or eyes. Another reason it is important to keep your pup restrained is you don’t want them to be able to distract you or crawl around on the floor restricting your ability to use the gas or brake petals.
While this article is mostly about traveling in the car with your dog, we never miss an opportunity to remind our pet parents to never leave a dog unattended in the car. In warm weather, temperatures in the car can soar causing your pup to suffer from heatstroke or even death.
All of these methods of traveling with a dog pose dangers to both you and your pet. So what should you do to stay safe in the car? We break down the essentials here so you are always prepared for the safest ride possible.
Car safety essentials for travel
1. Crate, harness, or seatbelt
Depending on a number of variables including your dog’s size, feelings about the car, and length of your journey you will want to choose the appropriate restraint for your dog.
A seatbelt should be attached to your dog’s harness, never a collar around the neck. Blueberry Pet makes an affordable option that can be adjusted so your dog can shift around and sit or lie down comfortably.
A car seat is an option for many small and medium dogs. Companies like Animals Matter, Snoozer and Sleepypod all make great options to keep your pup safe and let them ride in style.
2. Collar with ID
When traveling with your pup make sure they have a collar or harness on with ID and your contact information. This in addition to an up-to-date microchip will increase the likelihood of you and your pup being reunited should you be separated for any reason on your trip. Dogs have run off after collisions because they were scared etc.
3. Paper towels, wipes, and bags
How to keep your small dog safe in the car
To keep your smaller dog safe in the car, make sure they are in an appropriate sized carseat, seatbelt or crate. Because smaller pups can wiggle out of things, make sure everything is sized correctly for your dog.
How to keep your large dog safe in the car
It might be challenging to find a carseat for a big dog, but there are plenty of other products designed to keep your best friend safe. Consider a harness/seatbelt combination or a crate. Remember to put padding in the crate as needed to help minimize impact in the event that you stop short or your car is hit by another vehicle or object.
No matter where you’re going, it’s easier than ever to travel safely and in style. If you are ride sharing or travleing with your pet in someone else’s car - remember to always ask for permission first and bring a blanket or carrier to protect the seat!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.