How to Keep Your Dog Safe on a Road Trip!

Puppy road trips, having your dog along for the ride is always a blast. Our four-legged friends make for the perfect travel companions. Dogs are wacky, always happy and a whole lot of fun – plus they’ll never complain or bug you if you’re not there yet!

Staying Safe on the Road

As much fun as a road trip with your dog can be, you should always remember that it pays to invest in safety. All pet parents wish there were a car made with Fido in mind, but automakers design vehicles for humans, not canines.
Staying safe on a road trip should be priority number one, and here’s how to get it done…

Prepping your Pooch

Before you take Zuki out for a ride, you have to make sure that your dog is up for the task.
Your first order of business should be familiarising your dog with the car. Take it slow, sit in the vehicle with your dog and move the car up and down the driveway. When your pooch is feeling better about the whole thing, plan a short trip around the block. Make sure you reward your dog for good behaviour at the end!
Take your dog on trips to a nearby park, beach or any place that’s fun. By adding fun to the equation, your dog will associate car rides with happy playtime, not just trips to the vet.

Pack for Two

When packing for a road trip, you should pack for both you and your dog. Zuki should have his own stuff in a bag – food, wipes, treats, bowl, water, and toys. Remember that dogs need more specialised gear and packing the essentials – like a chew toy or food – is a must. Don’t forget your dog’s leash and harness.
Your dog’s regular food and water bowl are likely to bulky to bring on your trip. If you take frequent road trips, grab a travel bowl. According to Chelsie, from DogLab the ideal bowl is easy to clean, can hold both food and water and folds flat for easy packing.

It’s best if you bring your own supplies on a trip with your dog. A sudden change in food or water may cause stomach upset and diarrhoea. Your dog’s favourite toy will help with the monotony of long trips and help Zuki feel at home. A bored or stressed out dog will chew on anything!

Always Bring Your Dog’s Identification

Double check if your dog’s collar has all the vital information if he runs off and gets lost. Make sure to get Zuki a “tough as nails” dog tag made of steel, so it won’t break off or come loose.
Microchipping your dog is always a good option in case your dog gets caught on something, wiggles free and loses his dog tag. Most shelters have chip readers on-hand so they can ID any stray dog that comes in.

Visit the Doc

Before traveling, take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. A visit to the vet ensures that your fur baby is healthy enough for the trip. The doc will also give your dog all the necessary vaccines to keep them safe from anything serious she may get while outdoors.
If your dog suffers from motion sickness, ask the vet for medication to help ease the symptoms.

Plan your Route and Stop Often

Check online maps for viable rest, play and feeding areas where you can make a pit stop. Mapping your drive is essential, especially if you own a puppy or an older dog because they need to pee more often.
Choose rest areas that have nearby parks or fields where your dog can run around and use up any
excess energy.
Scheduled stops also let you stretch your own legs and chill for a little bit. Use the stops to load up on water, so you and your dog stay hydrated. Give your dog a snack or some treats if it’s feeding time because dogs need consistency for their routines.

Car Safety Must-Haves

All cars have features designed to make our lives a little bit more comfortable when driving. What makes us comfy can also make our dog feel the same way. You can use this to your advantage!

  • Plain glass lets the heat of the sunshine through, which can warm up a car’s interior cabin even with the AC turned on. Make sure to have your car’s windows tinted before you go on a road trip with your dog.
  • Dogs don’t sweat because they’re covered in fur and some are prone to heatstroke. Keeping your car’s interior temperature low can help your dog stay cool. This rings true if you own a heat-sensitive breed like an Akita or a brachycephalic dog (Pugs, Bulldogs).
  • Check local or state laws on the degree of tint you can install on your car. Generally, it’s safer to install a lighter degree of shade on the front windshield and go darker on the sides. Tinting the rear windshield is equally important if you own an SUV and your dog rides in a crate at the back. It will make the road trip much more comfortable.
  • Side Airbags for the backseat
  • Front airbags can be fatal for dogs, which is why it isn’t advisable to let Rover ride shotgun with you. The safest way to go on a road trip with your dog is to make him sit in the back, secured by a harness, barrier or crate. Side airbags can help protect your dog in case of a road mishap.
  • Most modern cars come with side airbags for the backseat that should last throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. But it always helps to have your airbags checked, especially if you own a car that is more than 10 years old.
  • Strong Dual-Zone AC
  • A strong AC makes for a pleasant drive, but sometimes the fans aren’t strong enough to reach the backseat. Make sure your car’s air conditioner is running at peak performance before you hit the road with your dog. If you own an SUV, check if all the vents at the rear are working. A darker tint can help if your car has a weak AC.
  • Dog Harness, Hammock, Carrier and Car Seat
  • To keep your dog from bouncing around the backseat or bothering you, you should make sure your pup is safely secured!
  • There are a few ways you can do this. The easiest is by securing your dog via a harness that attaches to your car’s rear seatbelt. This ensures that Fido doesn’t become a projectile during sudden stops and that he’s safely tethered to the backseat. Add a dog barrier that attaches to the front seats, and you’re set!
  • If you have a large dog breed and you want to keep your car’s interior in pristine condition, get a dog hammock. A hammock covers the entire backseat of your vehicle and forms a barrier so your dog won’ cross the centre console. Dog hammocks also work for smaller breeds, but your tiny fur baby might be better off with a k9 car seat instead.
  • A collapsible dog crate or carrier is the safest option, especially on long road trips. Your dog will have his own private and secure space where he can have all the comforts of home, like his bed or toys. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your dog suddenly jumping on you when you’re driving fast on the highway. Make sure you tie down a crate well and leave no sharp objects inside.
Where are You Headed?

By preparing your dog for a car ride and planning ahead, you can make any road trip a safe journey. The vital part of keeping your dog safe on the road is by mapping everything out before you head out. Have a contingency for the contingency! Road trips can be very unpredictable, especially when you’re traveling with your dog. It’s also important to note that you should never leave your dog in a parked car, no matter how fast you think you can come back. Cars can become ovens in a heartbeat! Also, take this time NOT to let your dog get used to sticking his head out of the window when the car is moving. Flying debris can seriously injure your dog!
So, what are you waiting for? The long road awaits!