Understanding Dog Car Safety

Understanding Dog Car Safety - Animals Matter, Inc.

Dog safety in the car is a serious issue. Like you, your furry friend can suffer serious injuries in a crash. Unfortunately, many people simply allow their pets to jump into the vehicle with little regard for their overall safety. Whether you're getting ready to head off on a road trip or you need to take your dog on a short trip to the dog park or vet, however, you want to make sure that they have a safe, comfortable experience. Try these tips to improve overall car safety for your dog.

1. Keep your pet in the back seat.

Start by assuming that your dog will need to be in the back seat for travel. Most front seats have airbags, which can cause serious injury to your dog when they deploy. An airbag may not sit in the right place for your dog, which means that if it deploys, your dog may end up with broken bones or worse.

2. Make sure that your dog is properly restrained during every trip.

Do not allow small dogs to sit up on your lap, no matter how comfortable it may feel throughout your trip. If you do get into an accident, your dog may end up thrown around the vehicle or seriously injured by the airbag. You may also note that a small dog wandering around the front seat, no matter how well-behaved, can increase your risk of an accident by distracting you, bumping the gear shift, or even ending up under your feet.

Big dogs should also be properly restrained, not just left to roam the cargo area or back seat of your vehicle. While dogs may not fit in a standard seat belt, you may be able to find a dog harness that will properly restrain your dog in the event of a crash. You can also find dog car seats to secure your pup. If your dog will not fit in a harness or you cannot find an appropriate crash-tested safety harness, you may want to consider a properly-secured dog crate, which can help keep your dog in place and reduce injury in the event of an accident.

3. Plan regular stops to help keep your dog safe.

It does not take long for your dog to get dehydrated. If you're going on a car ride that will last for more than a couple of hours, plan regular stops that will make it easier for you to allow your dog to hydrate, eliminate waste, and get out and run for a little while. Make sure you allow your dog time to drink water every 60-90 minutes to avoid dehydration.

4. Never leave your dog in the car alone.

It takes only minutes for your pet to overheat in a hot car. While it's fine to get out of the car and pump gas, you should never step away from the car for more than five minutes at a time. Keep in mind that five minutes can pass much faster than you thought. Often, people hear these safety tips and assume that they will not be gone long enough to cause a problem. Unfortunately, for all too many, disaster strikes before they can get back to the vehicle, resulting in severe injury to their pets.

5. Get your dog used to riding in the car.

If you want to keep your pet safe in the car, make sure that you conduct regular trips to help keep your dog comfortable with the process. Larger dogs may fight the tether or safety harness if they know that they only have to wear it when they go to the vet. Pet owners also need to know how their dogs will react to specific types of restraints so that they can modify them accordingly. Does your dog fight a dog seat belt? Struggle with webbing? You may benefit from a pet carrier for car travel. Regular car trips can also help you identify motion sickness or give you a better idea of what type of dog car harness your dog responds to best.

6. Keep the car windows closed.

Do not allow your dog to hang his head all the way out the window, no matter how cute it might be! If your dog is hanging out the window, it could cause your dog to be thrown from the car. On the other hand, if your dog is using proper car restraints, it may help keep your dog in place and allow both of you to enjoy the wind in your hair.

7. Leash your dog before getting out of the car.

Large dog owners and small alike may note that getting their dogs out of the car can prove difficult, especially after a long ride. Even a well-trained dog may try to run off after getting out of the car, often resulting in a devastating loss. Make sure your dog is leashed before you let them out of their dog carrier or remove the harness.

Do you need more help making sure your dog is properly restrained in the car? Contact us today to learn about how we can help keep your pet comfortable and safe.


How long can a dog safely be in a car?

In general, you should never leave your dog in a car alone for more than 5 minutes. Even if you leave the car running, disaster could strike before you can get back. Generally, adult dogs who are fully potty trained and unable to hold their urine can ride for 3-4 hours before they need to get out and take a break.

What are the biggest risks a dog faces in a car?

Dogs may face a number of risks in a vehicle. Some of the biggest risks are flying out of a window during a sudden stop or turn or suffering injuries in an accident. An unrestrained dog in your car can both increase injury risk to both you and your pet and increase the risk that you will suffer an accident. Always restrain your dogs in the car with a hammock, car seat, or harness.

How much water should a dog drink before going in a car?

You should allow your dog to drink normally, but not force it, before climbing in the car for a road trip. Stop every 60-90 minutes to allow for hydration, or make water available to your pup in the car.

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