These days, no matter where we go, people can’t seem to leave the house without their pets, including our cars. But what most of us may not consider is that driving with our canine companion can be dangerous.
According to a recent AAA survey, more than half of all respondents admit engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog.
Of course, driving distracted can easily lead to a crash. So, to keep you and your canine safe, we have compiled a list of dog travel safety tips you should know when driving with your dog.
Dog travel safety tips: Secure your ride
Whether you’re on a quick outing across town or a long road trip, restrain your pet while you’re behind the wheel; after all, if dogs have free reign in a vehicle, it can prove distracting or worse. In an accident, pets left unrestrained can easily be thrown from a car or become dangerous projectiles, possibly injuring you or other passengers.
Providing your pet with a restraint system is best to avoid these scary situations. Here are a few options:
- Pet barrier: These containment measures can serve as a car divider to keep dogs from wandering all over while you drive. Additionally, they can help block Fido from sitting on your lap and come in various sizes to fit most vehicles. But while they can help avoid doggy distractions, barriers wonâ€™t provide crash protection.
- Harness: Harnesses are the equivalent of a seatbelt for dogs. They limit movement, but they also help protect your furry friend in the event of an accident. Not all harnesses are created equal, though. Still, the Center For Pet Safety recommends purchasing a crash-tested version as the safest bet for your pet.
- Padded Cargo Cover: Companies like Ruff Rugs Pet Cargo Liners make cargo liners with extra padding so you can keep older dogs comfortable on longer trips.
Be mindful of the temperature
Is it ever OK to leave your dog in the car? The short answer is “no.” The temperature can heat up quickly inside your vehicle, even in the shade. Let’s say the weather outside is mild. Well, it’s still not a safe call to leave your pup in a vehicle whose inside temperature could rise to 90 degrees or higher.
Experts say if it’s 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise to 104 degrees within 30 minutes. If you choose to leave your pet in the car in one of these 16 states, which have hot car laws, you could face severe fines and criminal charges.
Instead, search online for dog-friendly businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and shops, along your route to avoid this potentially dangerous dilemma altogether.
Plan for the long haul
When taking your pet on an extended trip, it’s always good to keep a maintenance checklist handy to get your vehicle ready to hit the road. Many of the same things that keep humans safe also help our dogs stay out of danger.
For example, getting an oil change and making sure your coolant, wiper, brake, and steering fluid are all topped off can help you avoid unnecessary stops, which can lengthen trip times and ultimately take a toll on your dog.
Another critical safety check is to measure the tread depth of your car’s tires before heading out. Having the proper amount of tread on your tires is crucial to navigating through inclement weather, using emergency braking maneuvers, and generally staying safe on the road.
The importance of dog travel safety
Ultimately, drivers who travel with canine passengers should look for ways to safeguard their pooch. It’s also critical to keep up with regular vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes and checking the tread depth. Being mindful and intentional about vehicle maintenance helps contribute to the overall goal of a road trip: safety and enjoyment for you and Fido.