Driving with your four legged friend can be a fun and rewarding experience – after all, most dogs love the thought of a car trip with their favourite human― what better way to explore the world than with your best friend? While driving with your dog can be exciting, it is important to follow some key safety steps and to take a few precautions to make sure that the trip will be a safe one for both you and your dog.
1. Keep your dog safe in a dog crate
While many pet owners allow their dogs to ride in the front seat of the van or SUV, it isn’t the safest place for your pet – like humans, they need to be properly restrained in a vehicle in case of an accident. This is best done by placing your furry friend in a properly sized crate before the trip and to secure it properly in the back of the vehicle.
The crate should be large enough so that your dog is able to stand up and turn around in comfortably, so make sure to shop around before purchasing. Many pet stores and online pet shops sell collapsible pet crates that fold up for easy storage―enabling you to keep it in a closet or folded neatly in the back of your vehicle.
Talking softly to your dog during the trip may also help to minimize stress from riding in a crate.
2. Don’t allow your dog to stick his or her head out the window while driving
You’ve probably seen this before- driving down the highway, you notice a dog with his or her head sticking out of the window in the car beside you. However, doing this can be rather dangerous, and is ill advised when traveling with your dog.
Rocks, cement, and other debris on the road can be tossed up into the air by passing vehicles (or even your own), and can cause blindness or even life threatening injury in some cases, to your pet. You also have to consider the possibility of litter being thrown by the cars around you, such as cigarette butts, which can cause burns.
3. Pack plenty of extra food and water
When traveling with your dog, always remember to pack plenty of extra food and water for the both of you. This will come in handy if you were to get lost, stranded, or if your vehicle happen to break down while you are driving, especially in hot weather (trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it later).
Since it will be easy for your dog to become dehydrated in summer weather, keeping an extra supply of water on hand is ideal to your pet’s health. Extra food is essential for much the same reason!
4. Allow your dog to get plenty of exercise prior to traveling
Before putting your dog into the crate, make sure that he or she has already had plenty of exercise. This will help to prevent boredom and stress, and may also help to make the trip easier on his or her joints and muscles.
Also, be sure to stop the vehicle at regular intervals to allow your dog to get out and stretch, play, and take care of their bathroom needs. This important step in traveling can easily be overlooked, especially if you are traveling at night, but can in fact, be crucial for the wellbeing of your dog.
5. Create a first aid kit for your dog.
It’s easy to find first aid kits for humans at your local stores – whether they be the simple ones with antiseptic and bandages, or the more advanced kits with cold packs, medicines, and gauze. These kits can come in handy for things such as simple scrapes to falls and splinters.
However, the importance of doggy first aid kids may easily be overlooked. Online retailers and pet stores will carry first aid kits that focus on a pet’s needs while traveling; these are important to have on hand should you take your pet with you on trips often.
Also, be sure to pack extra prescription medications and vitamins that your dog might be taking, because you never know when something might come up and cause you to not make it back home at the estimated date or time.
6. Never leave your dog alone in the car
As with children, it is important to remember that it is never okay to leave your dog alone in a parked car. In the summer, it can get incredibly hot quickly, and can lead to heat stroke and death, while in the winter, the temperatures can dip low in a matter of minutes, causing your dog to freeze.
7. Keep a regular feeding schedule
If you have a regular feeding schedule at home, be sure to keep it while you are traveling. This will prevent your dog from becoming stressed, as a routine tends to help keep everyone happy and content.
8. Buy waterproof liners for your car or truck.
Even if your dog will be in a crate, a waterproof or rubber liner in the back of your vehicle can be useful, in the case that your dog has a bathroom accident or spills his or her food or water. This ensures easy cleanup and can be washed and reused multiple times.
9. Bring your dog’s vaccination records
It can be easy to forget, especially if you are planning a longer trip and have a lot of other things to take with you-but packing your dog’s vaccination records (such as rabies and boosters) should also be included, especially if you are traveling to another state and will be away for a while.
This will be helpful if you were to encounter an emergency and need to take your dog to a veterinarian.
10. Microchips are important for the traveling dog
If you travel frequently with your dog, it can be a great investment to have your dog microchipped. Microchips are small devices implanted under the dog’s skin that allow him or her to be identified easily in case your pet goes missing.
It’s a better alternative to a leash or collar, which can be choking hazards while driving. A leash and collar can easily be wrapped around something and cause your pet to choke while you are driving, so microchips are a wonderful alternative to keep your pet safe.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!