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Dog owners love their furry friends. I have five dogs myself and, according to my wife, need help before I collect more dogs to live with us (she also says I’ve officially replaced all of my children with dogs now that the kids are grown). Regardless of the number, size, breed, or age, we all want to keep our dogs safe when we drive with a dog in the car. It’s important to ensure as much dog car safety as possible for yourself and your furry friend. These car safety rules should help.

1. Use a pet carrier for optimal dog car safety

My Five Dogs in my office
My Five Dogs, Back Left – Dixie, Back Middle – Chewie, Back Right – Rosco, Front Left – Boots, Front Right- Echo | Nathaniel Ehinger

A dog carrier offers your pet room to move around, avoids distractions while driving, and provides hard tether points to securely place it in the vehicle. Ensure the carrier is well-ventilated and large enough for your dog to be comfortable. Of course, if you’re like me and have several dogs, this might not be a feasible solution.

2. Keep the windows closed

Although it’s cute to see dogs with their head out the window, and many of our furry friends love to smell the outside air, this can be dangerous. State Farm tells this is when a dog’s eyes, ears, or nose could be injured from flying debris. Keep your furry friend protected by keeping the windows closed.

3. Use a dog car seat or harness for better safety

Four Dogs Riding in the Cargo Hold of an SUV -Notice the Barrier between them and the seats
Four Dogs Riding in the Cargo Hold of an SUV | Wikimedia Commons

If there are enough tether points for your group of dogs, a dog car seat or harness can be an excellent choice to keep your four-legged family member restrained and comfortable. Another alternative to the pet carrier is a barrier between the rear seats and the cargo hold to give your pet plenty of room to move around.

4. Take several short rides before going on a long trip

Large Dog Riding in the Rear Seat of a Car
Large Dog Riding in the Rear Seat of a Car |Getty Images

Some dogs don’t like to ride in cars. WebMD suggests taking a few short drives to gradually get your dog used to riding in the car. If you’ll use a crate or restraint during your long trip, use it during your short test rides as well. This will help your pet get used to riding in a car.

5. Dog car safety also means a good feeding schedule

Try to feed your dog three to four hours before departure. This should be a light meal. Don’t feed your dog in a moving vehicle; this can be hazardous to them, causing vomiting or other stomach issues. There’s also a very good chance your dog might make a mess if you feed them in a moving car.

6. Prepare a dog travel kit beforehand

Puppy Eating from a Metal Bowl - This could be the right travel bowl for your dog
Puppy Eating from a Metal Bowl | Getty Images

What do you use at home to care for your dog every day? You’ll need some of these same items during your travels. Some items that should be in the travel kit include:

  • Travel papers – Rabies vaccine record, proof of ownership
  • Food bowl
  • Leash
  • Waste bags or scoop
  • Grooming supplies
  • Medication
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Favorite toy, pillow, blanket
  • Water – lots of it

7. Protect your vehicle to make dog car safety a pleasure for you

Dogs have no clue about leather upholstery, suede headliners, or how badly you don’t want the doors scratched in your car. If you travel frequently with your dog, rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers are a good investment.

Traveling with your dog can be a pleasure, but you’ve got to keep them safe. Hopefully, these seven dog car safety tips can help you and your furry friend enjoy some wonderful adventures together.


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