Making sure your dog stays safe while you’re driving doesn’t just protect the health and happiness of your pooch — it’s the law. States country-wide are enacting legislation focused on driving with pets, ranging from banning motorists in Hawaii from driving with dogs on their laps, to animal cruelty laws enforced in New Jersey for improper pet transport, reports USA Today.
While the only way to guarantee your dog’s safety in cars is to not have them ride in one, veterinarian and grooming trips often require vehicle travel. Here are four ways to ensure Fido stays secure on your next car trip.
Put Dogs in the Back Seat
Letting your dog ride in the front seat poses many dangers, including:
- Flying into your windshield in an accident
- Being hit by an airbag
- Falling into the space where your pedals are, causing you to swerve, hit another car or fail to brake
Just like children belong in the back, dogs do, too. If you’re keeping your dog on the actual seat, use a doggie harness seat belt that attaches to the car seat belt to keep him or her safe in case of an accident. Or put your dog in a crash-tested crate or dog carrier.
Say No to Truck Beds
While the backseat of a vehicle is the best position for a dog in the car, transporting a canine in a truck bed is dangerous. The American Humane Association estimates more than 100,000 dogs die a year during accidents while they were riding in truck beds. This poses a threat because dogs can fly out of trucks or be crushed in rollover accidents.
Truck beds are treacherous even if your dog is housed in a crate, which can slip and wiggle or cave in. Instead, opt for a vehicle that can comfortably fit your pet. Just like parents purchase vehicles that are kid-appropriate, it’s vital for dog parents who are searching for a used car to get one that’s dog-friendly, too.
Roll up the Window
Yes, dogs love poking their heads outside car windows to feel the breeze and take in all the new scents. Letting your dog put its paws up on your side window and stick its head out while you’re driving poses a threat to your pup, though. Some dogs may get excited and jump out of your car, or they may hit their head on something or be hit by flying debris.
Check to make sure there’s no way your dog can roll the window down or up. Automatic windows can cause choking or other injuries.
Don’t Leave Dogs in the Car
Animal welfare organization RSPCA reports it takes only six minutes for a dog to die from overheating in a car. Even on days when the outside temperature seems mild, the climate in a car can quickly double the warmth outside, causing burnt paws, extreme exhaustion and death.
Leaving a dog in a car can also be perceived as a form of animal abuse and carry criminal penalties. At least 14 states have laws against leaving pets inside vehicles, according to dog trainer and expert Cesar Millan. If you’re headed somewhere you can’t bring your dog inside, leave your dog at home.
Keep your dog relaxed and happy while driving by using dog-safe apparatus designed for cars and that fit your dog’s size comfortably. Give your canine a soft, soothing blanket to snuggle with, and keep a doggie first aid kit and plenty of water on hand to keep your pooch hydrated during the journey. Take plenty of breaks to let dogs move around and calm anxiety.