Dogs make perfect co-pilots – they go wherever you want and aren’t back seat drivers. But factory installed seat belts and other modern auto features are made for humans, making it difficult to keep your dog safe while you drive.
While it’s tempting to let your furry friend hop in the back for a ride along, dogs can just as easily be ejected from a car during a crash or simple fly toward the windshield if you stop short if they’re not properly restrained. Fortunately, there are ways you can keep Fido safe on the go.
Use crash tested crates - Crates prevent your pooch from climbing all over the car while you’re trying to drive.They also keep your best friend safe, especially if the create is properly crash tested. If you do a lot of traveling with your dog don’t just pack their at-home create, opt for a travel certified one. Crates with crash bags inside offer even more protection.
Use a harness/restraint - If you’d rather not crate your dog for the ride Fido can buckle up just like his human counterparts using a pet harness/restraint. There are dozens of these devices on the market for dogs of all shapes and sizes. These usually work by attaching securely to the seatbelts in your car. Do a little research to decide which is best for you, your dog and your vehicle.
Use a pet barrier - If you have an SUV and want to keep the pups in the back a pet barrier will keep your dog contained. Plus it has the added benefit of keeping pets off the upholstery. Dogs are great, but dog fur – not so much. It’s important to note that while a barrier will keep dogs from jumping into the seats it won’t keep them securely in place during an accident. You need a crate or secured harness for that.
Make pit stops - If you need a potty break, your furry friend probably does too. Even if you plan on punishing your bladder by powering through, you’ve got to give your dog a break. This will not only prevent in-car accidents but also give your dog a chance to stretch its legs and keep the whining to a minimum.
Lock the power windows - Child locks are for fur babies, too. Make sure the window locks are on to prevent your dog from operating the windows and getting hurt. This is particularly important if your dog likes to hang his or her head out the window. If the dog steps on the power window button and accidentally rolls the window up it can choke your pet – potentially without you even noticing. (This isn’t an issue if your dog is riding securely in a crate.)
Bring water and a bowl - You packed yourself a Red Bull to stay hydrated (and amped) but what about your dog? He gets thirsty too. That’s why it’s important to pack water and a bowl for your dog, it will keep him hydrated and healthy. With his head out the window he could also be panting more, so be sure to have plenty of fresh, clean water on hand for Spot. Even if you forget water and pick some up at a rest stop you’ll need a bowl or something else for your dog to easily drink out of.
Use a loading ramp - If your pooch is getting too old (or too heavy) to get up and into the car, you may consider a loading ramp. There are many different designs available to make life easier.
Pack supplies for you dog - If you’re going on an extended road trip, you’ll need more than just a water bowl to keep your dog content. Some other items you’ll want to bring include: a collar ID tag, pre-packaged food, treats, toys, a reserve of water, towels, vaccine documentation, a leash, medication, plastic bags and cleaning supplies. If your pup has a microchip make sure it’s updated with your correct contact information.
Pick the right vehicle - If you’ve got a Great Dane and you’re in the market for a new ride you probably don’t want a subcompact. Life will be easier if you start out with a vehicle that is accommodating for your pet. Kia offers a wide range of pet friendly vehicles from the Soul (perfect for your Pomeranian) to the Telluride (for shuttling your Saint Bernard).