It’s a fun and exciting experience to set out on a road trip with your dog. However, to ensure the safety of both you and your furry companion, careful consideration and planning are essential.
If it’s your first time hitting the road with your canine copilot, here are some tips for a safe trip with dogs in a car. Buckle up, and let’s hit the road!
1. Get A Proper Restraint System
Just like humans in a car must fasten their seat belts for optimal safety, one of the most critical things needed, if you intend to drive with a dog is to ensure that they’re adequately restrained.
Dogs can get excited on a road trip and quickly become a distraction and a nuisance. Having the right seat belt, harness, or crate specifically designed to secure your dog is vital to ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip for all.
Not only do these restraints prevent your dog from moving around freely in the vehicle and minimizing this distraction, but they also reduce the risk of injury to dogs in a car in the event of a sudden stop or collision.
Tip: Make sure the restrain system you choose to secure your dog is appropriate for your dog’s size and activity level, ensuring it fits securely and comfortably.
2. Get Your Dog Used To The Car
Before hitting the road on a long road trip, getting your dog used to car rides is a good idea. Gradually introduce your dog to the car. Let them explore and hang out in the car while it’s parked. Then start with a short trip around the block, gradually building up the duration until your dog is comfortable in the car. Remember to reward good behavior handsomely with treats and praise so the process is positive and stress-free.
3. Check In With Your Vet
Aside from regular health check-ups, it’s always best to check in with your vet before you travel. This is your chance to discuss your dog’s existing health concerns and how travel may affect these. It’s also the best time to ensure your dog’s vaccines and any flea, tick, and worm preventatives are up to date.
While you’re there, you may want to ask for some calming aids and anti-nausea medication that might come in handy if your dog begins to get anxious or starts suffering from motion sickness in the car.
4. Secure Your Drive With A Dog
Loose objects in the car should always be safely secured or stored away as they can become dangerous projectiles during sharp turns or sudden stops. Another critical safety concern for dogs in a car is open windows.
Partially open windows are great for ventilation but can become problematic when your dog tries to stick their head or torso through the opening. Ideally, invest in some window guards to prevent any accidental opening of windows. Mesh screens allow ventilation without compromising the safety of your canine passengers.
5. Break Up Your Journey
Planning frequent stops on your long drive with a dog is always a good idea. Not only is this recommended for driver safety and alertness, but regular breaks will help your dog too. Allow them to get out of the car, stretch their legs, get some exercise, and answer nature’s calls.
Regular stops will ensure that your dog remains comfortable, reduces restlessness, and keeps them from becoming anxious or agitated. Make sure that you keep water, food, and poop baggies in the car so your dog has everything it needs.
6. Don’t Leave Your Dog Unattended
It should go without saying that leaving your dog in a car unattended is never ok. Of course, in hot weather, your car quickly becomes dangerously hot, and your dog is at risk of heatstroke and even death.
If you need to step out of the car, leave someone to keep an eye on the dog, or better yet, consider pet-friendly establishments so you don’t need to leave your dog at all.
If you leave your dog in a motel room while you pop out, you can stay connected to your bestie using apet monitoring camera.
7. Microchip, GPS collar and ID
Being in unfamiliar territory is exhilarating. But it’s also terrifying if you and your canine become separated in a place that you don’t know well. Increase the odds of reuniting with your dog by ensuring that your dog’s ID tag is legible. Ideally, you’ll want to get your dog microchipped before you leave.
Another really handy device is a GPS tracking device or collar. With this, there’s no waiting in case someone picks up your lost dog. You can track your dog in real time and always know where they are and what they’re up to.
8. Don’t Forget Your Etiquette
Just because you’re heading to new places doesn’t mean the old rules don’t apply. Things like picking up after your dog are still important, so make sure you always have baggies with you.
Other important things to remember are leash laws. Make sure that you are always familiar with and adhere to the regulations. This can be a critical safety concern for wildlife in nature reserves or on hikes.
Essential items to pack
- Restraint – dog seat, crate, etc
- Water and a bowl
- Blankets and bedding
- Poop baggies
- Any medication needed
- A first aid kit (and make sure your read up on dog wound care on the NAPPS website)
- Your dog’s medical records and health certificates
- Grooming supplies
- A list of veterinary hospitals along the way
- Protect your dog with an insurance
Road trips are great fun and best when shared with your closest companions. While hitting the road with your dog in a car can seem like something you can do on the spur of the moment, it’s a good idea to do some essential preparations beforehand to ensure a smooth, stress-free, and safe experience for all.