In today’s day and age, getting around by car has become the norm. Seatbelts and airbags are designed to keep us safe in case of an unexpected event but what about your four-legged friend? Here are some things to consider when traveling with your dog.
Making your dog feel comfortable
The first thing you need to know about getting your dog in the car safely is not to do it the day you need to take them to the vet or on a road trip. It may be a normal part of day to day life for you but remember, for your dog, it’s an unusual box made of metal that makes a lot of noise. Get your dog used to going in the car gradually.
First, have your pet stay in the car without going anywhere – just take him or her into the car and act normally while it is parked in front of the house.
The second step is taking short drives around the neighborhood to get your pooch used to the car moving. Remember to always bring treats along so that you can reward your Fido for being calm during the ride. Another thing that helps is having your dog’s blankets and other items with familiar smells in the car, for an added feeling of safety.
Keeping your dog safe
After making sure your dog will keep calm during a car ride it’s time to move on to the second step – getting the right dog harness. Just like you wouldn’t dream of driving your kids around without their seatbelts fastened, you shouldn’t take your dog for a car ride without a harness that can be attached to the seatbelt to keep him or her safe.
When deciding what type of harness you should get for your dog’s car rides, please take into consideration the following facts. The harness should fit your dog without it being too tight, and to check this try putting two fingers under each strap. If it’s the right fit you will be able to do this with ease.
Make sure the harness has had crash testing; it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And last but not least, make sure your dog feels comfortable wearing the harness.
Considering the sheer number of harnesses available online and that fact that not all might work as advertised, so we recommend checking user reviews before deciding on a particular model.
Packing the right items
If you want to make sure your four-legged companion feels comfortable and safe for the whole duration of your ride, you need to make sure you’ve packed the right items for the trip. A dog water bottle is an item that you’ll find useful not only for car rides but also for walks in the park and other activities that might make your pet thirsty. There are a lot of models out there to choose from – just make sure the size and shape suit your breed.
You should always pack dog treats when taking your pet for a car ride; they’re perfect for getting your dog’s attention or for rewarding good behavior. If your pet is particularly excited during car rides you can try dog calming treats to get him to relax. Based on the length of the ride you can also consider packing some food.
If your dog sheds a lot of hair or usually gets mud or dust in his coat, and a towel just isn’t giving your car seats the needed protection, a dog car seat cover might be right for you. It creates a comfortable space for your dog inside your car and at the same time contains the shed fur and other foreign objects your pet might bring with him inside (like a favorite toy).
Dealing with car sickness
As with people, some dogs suffer from car sickness or motion sickness. The condition is more frequent in young dogs because the structures of the inner ear that are responsible for balance haven’t fully formed yet.
If your dog shows signs of nausea during car rides, please ask your vet for motion sickness medication. Another thing you can do to make car rides more pleasant under such circumstances is not feeding your pet before the car ride and driving as carefully as possible.
Making sure all is well
Remember to plan frequent stops when traveling with your dog in order to give him or her the opportunity to stretch his or her legs, and more importantly to allow your pet to act when nature calls. Maintain the temperature of the inside close to that of the outside — a big difference in temperature might cause a thermic shock for both you and your dog when you leave the car.
Also, make sure that your pet is not exposed to direct sunlight for a long time as this might lead to overheating. Always lock the rear doors and make sure the power windows are disabled to prevent any unwanted escape of your dog.
A word of warning
Never, under any circumstances, leave your dog unattended in the car. Other than being frustrating for your pet to be left alone in the car, on summer days it’s also extremely dangerous. Soaring temperatures and direct exposure to the sun’s rays could have dire consequences.
To better understand what a dog in this situation is going through try sitting in your car, in the heat of summer, for at least half an hour. Surely it’s not something you’ll want to try again any time soon.
While the human body cools itself with the use of evaporating sweat through the skin, canines do so through panting and sweating through their paw pads which are much less efficient. If you notice increased panting in your dog, it can be a sign of overheating.
Getting on the road
The best advice we can give you when planning a car trip with your four-legged companion is to pay attention to your dog’s needs and to make sure that the both of you are comfortable at all times.