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Car Safety for Dogs: The Do’s and Don’ts

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Answers to all your dog car safety questions.
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Just like any other passenger, dogs need protection from potential dangers while in the car. Here are a few guidelines to help keep your dog safe and sound while you’re traveling the open road.

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A Yorkie dog strapped in a harness for its safety while driving.

Car Safety Do’s: Keeping Your Dog Safe While Traveling


Use a Harness or Crate

While easy to forget about, your dog needs to be secured in your car, just like you are with a seat belt. Sudden stops, swerves or other incidents can cause your dog to lose their balance and become seriously injured.

The two most common methods for securing your dog are safety harnesses and crates. If you go with a crate, make sure it’s big enough for your dog to comfortably stand, sit or lie down in, and that it also can be placed flat in the vehicle.

Help Manage Anxiety

Get in the habit of familiarizing your dog with your car and taking small trips around town (not just to the vet). Starting this routine early in their life can do wonders making them feel more comfortable and less anxious about being in the car.

Take Breaks

If your dog accompanies you on a road trip or longer drive, be sure to take breaks every few hours so they can get out of the car, relieve themselves and stretch their legs.

Bring Your Own Water

Unknown water sources can contain parasites like giardia. To help keep your dog safe, hydrated and protected from digestive issues, bring clean drinking water from home.

Car Safety Don’ts: What to Avoid When Driving with Your Dog

No Hanging out the Window

While your dog loves feeling the wind in their fur, letting your pet hang out the window isn’t a good idea. Debris and flying objects could cause injury to your dog, and it’s not worth the risk. Roll the window down a crack, but only for the fresh air.

Don’t Ignore Extreme Temperatures

In extreme cold and, particularly, extreme heat, don’t leave your dog unattended in the car. A car’s interior heats up quickly, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. While you’re driving, make sure the temperature in the car is comfortable for pets as well as people — control these levels with your A/C or heater.

Avoid Distractions

Yes, your dog is adorable, but remember: It’s important to keep your eyes on the road and not get distracted by their cuteness (or any other distracting behaviors). Unfortunately, this means you shouldn’t let your dog sit on your lap while you’re driving, either.

Don’t Snack and Drive

While you and your family should enjoy the best part of a road trip (snacks!), try to manage motion sickness by feeding your dog when you stop for breaks. It’s also a good idea to let your pup eat their meal a few hours before you leave to help prevent digestive issues or tummy troubles in the car.

As dog lovers, we want our pets close to us whenever possible — even when we’re in the car. But it’s also our job to keep them safe. Use these tips to protect your dog, prevent distractions and enjoy the ride together.

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