Dogs are natural road warriors. It seems as soon as they see you grabbing the car keys, they’re on their feet, ready to act as your co-pilot. Here are some tips to make sure your travel companion is safe.
More people are viewing their pets as full-fledged family members and bringing them along on errands or even on road trips. Over 69% of people take their dogs along in the car for daily errands and 34% report bringing their pets along with them on overnight trips for two nights or more (APPA Survey, 2014). Before you travel off on a cross-country road trip or around the corner to the dog park, make sure your pet is comfortable and safe.
Along with your own snacks and drinks, be sure to bring a water bottle and water bowl for your dog too. Dehydration can be a real problem even in colder weather. Dogs tend to pant more in the car, resulting in more dehydration than in their familiar home environment. There are many dog travel bowls available that collapse into a small size so you can easily tuck them into a car door or travel bag.
Always Have a Collar, Leash and ID Tag
It’s important to have your dog under control when making stops along the way or at your destination. Hundreds of pets are lost or injured each year when they jump out of cars uncontrolled into parking lot traffic or wander off from the doggie break area. Leashes, collars, and dog harnesses are essential for control. Also do not forget ID tags and ideally micro-chip your pet. If your dog gets lost, you will be thankful you have them to return him home safely.
Keep All Arms, Legs, Paws & Heads Inside the Vehicle
If you wouldn’t let your child hang out your car window, then why would you let your dog? Many dogs enjoy doing this, but it isn’t worth the risk to your dog’s health. Susan O’Dell DVM, Kurgo Consulting Veterinarian, warns that allowing this can result in debris being kicked up into your pet’s eyes or exposing their lungs to pollution and exhaust fumes. Not to mention the risk of your dog being clipped by a passing car or jumping out the window at traffic stops.
Keep Fido in the Back Seat
Accidents are increasingly caused by distracted driving and nearly 30% of drivers admit to being distracted by their dog while driving (AAA/Kurgo Study). For your dog’s safety and yours, pets should never be in the front seat with you or on your lap. You should be as distraction-free as possible when driving.
There are many products specifically designed to keep your pup out of the front seat. For example, a backseat barrier fits between the two front seats to prevent your pet from getting into the front seat. Dog hammocks can also be used to protect your car seats and keep your pet in the back. They hang between the front and back seats over the bench seat, attaching to the head rests. They create a cozy place for your pup to rest on a long trip while keeping everyone safe from distracted driving.
Buckle Up for Safety
Another way to prevent distracted driving is to restrain your dog. You can do this by putting your pet in a crate that is secured with a pet carrier restraint or by putting the crate behind one of the front seats on the floor so it doesn’t move when stopping short.
For larger dogs, the best solution is a dog harness and dog seat belt. There are several options that all prevent distracted driving and offer varying levels of movement for your pet. Using a crash-tested dog harness and running the car seat belt through the harness is the safest solution. If your dog can’t tolerate this restriction, you could start with a dog seat belt which connects the harness to your seat belt system. This typically gives a little more room to stand, sit, and lay down. For more restless dogs, you can also use a dog zip line product where you attach the harness to a line running across the back seat, allowing your pup to walk back and forth. This will at least keep them out of the front seat and ensure you can drive safely.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone
Dogs should never be left unattended in the car, regardless of the weather or how long you will be gone. Heat is the biggest concern, especially when considering that on an 85 degree day, car temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees within 10 minutes with the windows open! Pets left alone can also attract pet thieves. Our suggestion is to prevent these from ever occurring by simply bringing your pet along with you.
With more than 11 years of experience developing innovative dog travel products, Kurgo’s mission is to help owners and their pets get out and enjoy the world together. Kurgo makes everything from crash-tested dog harnesses for the car to car seat covers to outdoor gear like dog backpacks and booties.