The sights, the smells, the speed; car rides are bliss for dogs. Some pet behaviorists believe this is due to that fact that car rides can mimic the sensations that dogs experience when hunting in packs.
From moving synchronically with the other members of the car (their “pack”) as the car sways and maneuvers to the accelerated speed of travel and the challenge to their superior olfactory senses (did you know that dogs possess about 3 million olfactory sensors in their noses?), car rides are a holistic sensory experience that can be a thrilling adventure for a dog.
As a dog owner, It’s always hugely entertaining to watch your canine companion; leaning out the window, tongue out, ears flapping in the wind, panting with pure joy. During this adorable display of unadulterated pooch satisfaction, it may not occur to you to ask the question:
Is this the safest way for my dog to travel in the car?
Of course, as a loving pet parent, you want to ensure the safety of your pet at all times. Allowing your pup to sail down the road with their head out the window is seemingly harmless--and incredibly cute but there are some potential dangers that can be quite injurious to your pooch and their overall health.
How To Safely Travel With Your Dog
Of course, as a loving pet parent, you want to ensure the safety of your pet atHow To Safely Travel With Your Dog all times. Car rides are a fun and exciting way to travel with your dog that allows you both to enjoy your surroundings together. Before you disembark on your next adventure, here are some safety tips that will help you ensure that your travels adventures keep you and your pooch safe.
...On A Short Trip
Keep your pooch fully inside of the car.
Anytime your dog is traveling in a car, make sure that their head and paws always stay inside of the car. The reasons for this are substantial. Besides the dangerous projectiles that could strike them and harm or injure their eyes or body, wind damage occurs when a dog’s soft earflaps, or pinnae, become damaged and inflamed if their ears are exposed to high-speed winds for prolonged periods of time.
Furthermore, dogs falling out of car windows is very much a real possibility. As you drive, quick turns or a large bump could cause your pup to lose their balance and fall out of the vehicle, which could cause injury or death.
This also means that dogs riding in pickup truck beds is a big safety no-no. Dogs riding in open truck beds face the potential dangers of leaning out of a car window tenfold.
The safest way for a dog to travel by car, is in a crate that they can comfortably lie, sit, stand-up and turn around in. If you cannot use a crate, your dog should be in the back seat or cargo area, wearing a harness attached to a seat belt buckle at all times that your vehicle is moving.
Never leave your dog unattended in a parked vehicle.
Even if you know you’ll only be away from your car for a short while, a hot car can become dangerously hot much more quickly than you’d expect, even with the windows down (which could also present the possibility for your dog to escape, or be taken from, your vehicle) the onset of canine hyperthermia, or heat stroke, can occur very quickly.
In the winter months, it takes no time at all for your unmoving vehicle to become an icebox, resulting in freezing conditions and painful and dangerous frostbite for your pup.
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...On A Long Car Ride
When driving long distances with your dog, you’ll of course want to follow all of the precautions stated above, but also take some additional provisions to make sure your scenic journey goes seamlessly.
Bring your dog's rabies vaccination record.
Pro tip: some states require proof of rabies vaccination for pets when crossing state lines. Also, while it is very likely that you won’t need it, unexpected accidents do happen, it is critically important to have this documentation on hand if your dog bites someone or another dog.
Also make sure that your dog has proper identification in the event that they become separated from you.
Pack a pup-friendly travel kit.
This pooch-preparedness kit should include a poop scoop, plastic bags, food, feeding and water bowls, a leash, and any grooming supplies you may need. Also, outfit your kit with your dog’s medication and a first aid kit. Be sure to pack plenty of water and stop regularly for water and bathroom breaks for your dog.
Enjoy Your Adventures... Safely!
Ensuring that your dog is safe and secure during your driving excursions, may mean that Fido can no longer be able to lean, unabashedly, outside of the car window--but it doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy the ride any less. For your four legged co-pilot, spending time with their favorite human and going on a new adventure will be more than enough to keep them delighted.