Canine Safety in Cars

Most people take it for granted that dogs like going for car rides, and indeed most dogs do. However, there are certain safety concerns owners should address before traveling any distance with their beloved canine.

The dog should never be in the front seat on your lap. Not only is this distracting, but if you are in an accident the dog will be squashed between your body and the steering wheel. There is also a danger that the dog could jump off your lap and onto the floor by the gas, and brake pedals, an obviously bad place for a dog to be.

Some areas require dogs traveling in cars be restrained under the law. Even if your area does not have such a rule, it is a good safety guide to keep your dog secured in some way. This can be by use of a dog crate, dog safety belt, or a doggy barrier that confines it to the back of such vehicles as station wagons. The idea is that if you are in an accident your dog is safer than if they are loose, as they would likely go through the windshield. Additionally they are restrained from interfering with the driver.

dog in car by Greencolander.

Photo source

In an accident this dog would be thrown forward hitting the drivers  head, or going through the front window.

Dogs should never be loose in back of an open truck. In an accident the dog would be thrown or likely pinned under a rolled vehicle. Additionally the air is drying and could quickly dehydrate a dog. Dust and other debris could get into a dogs eye and cause serious problems.  Traveling with a dog in this way is illegal in some areas.

Dog in back of truck by donjd2.

Photo source

Some dogs suffer from motion sickness. It is therefore advisable not to feed a dog just before a trip. It is better to have it travel on an empty stomach. If your dog is prone to car sickness either leave it at home, or discuss medication for travel (including some used on people) with your veterinarian.

Some dogs get stressed when traveling in the car. This may be from lack of exposure to care travel, a symptom of getting car sick, or may have another cause. Owners who need to take a dog with them may consider sedating a nervous dog, but this is a risk you should use only as a last resort, and only with veterinarian guidance. A sedated dog may have a problem requiring emergency veterinarian attention, and depend where you are in your trip, this may be hard to find. Instead get the dog familiar with the car by going on several short trips, and occasionally just sitting in the vehicle with the dog, but not going anywhere. A dog who is use to going in a crate will consider the crate a safe place for the drive.

 anti botox brigade by emdot.

Photo source

Allowing a dog to put its head out the window is also putting the dog at risk for getting a foreign object in the eye. As well it exposes the dog to lots of nasty chemicals from the car exhaust.  If you must, at least get the dog some proper dog eye goggles.  

One of the biggest dangers to dogs in cars is becoming overheated when left in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked open, and being parked in the shade, a car can quickly heat up and be a death trap for the dog. A car parked in the sun can heat by as much as 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) in less than half an hour, and will continue to warm. Make no mistake dogs have died in cars where the outside temperatures are in the low 80’s. A contributing factor is that occasionally the owner is away from the car longer than they expected.

Always travel with a dog emergency kit. This means a container for water as well as a spare leash and collar. If your car breaks down you will be grateful to have those with you. If you are traveling out of your local area, this emergency kit should also contain your dogs health record, and veterinarians phone number.

In summary, yes most dogs enjoy a ride in the car, but unless the ride is necessary for them to be on, consider if you will be putting them at risk at any point, as when traveling on a hot day, and having to leave them. Sometimes it is just better to leave the dog at home.

Other Doggy Links

The Six Most Dangerous Dogs

The Six Safest Dogs with Children

Basic Information on Dog Health

If you have opinions, ideas, or knowledge, and would like to get Paid for sharing them by writing for sites like this, Click Here.

Liked it


User Comments
  1. ken bultman

    On June 1, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Excellent article. Sorry for the lengthy comment. In Florida, there are few days a year a stop can be made with a dog in the car. This past winter (yes, winter), an Auburndale policewoman (a town nearby) left her K-9 partner in her cruiser while she went into headquarters to write reports. The air conditioner failed, the a/c warning device failed, a beautiful four-year-old German Shepherd’s heart failed.

  2. Darla Beck

    On June 1, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This is a very informative article and one that all dog owners should read.

  3. Deep Blue

    On June 1, 2009 at 11:33 am

    This article will surely save many dog’s life. You have what it takes to be a dog whisperer. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Daisy Peasblossom

    On June 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    It happens every year–kids, pets and elderly left in the vehicle for just a few minutes, becoming over-heated. When will people learn?

  5. Jo Oliver

    On June 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    There is nothing I hate worse, than seeing pets and kids in the back of a truck. What the hell do these parents and animal owners think will happen if someone hits the vehicle. That is almost certain death. Likewise, left in a car. Someone needs to lock these people up in a hot car for just five minutes, and I bet they would never do it again.

  6. Lostash

    On June 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I HATE seeing cars with dog heads sticking out the window!! God help everyone in the event of a crash….and that is likely with an unsecured dog loafing around the cabin!

  7. PR Mace

    On June 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Excellent article. My dogs don’t get joy rides. Only needs trips. They would rather take a long walk or play with a tennis ball.

  8. skylite

    On June 1, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Excellent article… very nicely written !

  9. Ruby Hawk

    On June 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    When we owned dogs the only time they were in the car was to the vet. ours didn’t like the car.

  10. Bo Russo

    On June 16, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Good info for any dog lover.I used to have a dog that went everywhere with my,she loved car rides,she just sat in the passenger seat.

  11. Shannon

    On July 11, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Not only can letting a dog hang its head out the window result in the dangers already mentioned, but there have been cases where animals with their heads sticking out of a vehicle have been decapitated by another car coming too close, going though a tunnel, etc.

    Also, any harness is better than none as far as seat belts go, but a safety-tested harness is much better. Of these, the Roadies is the safest, most popular, and easiest to use. Harness seat belts are safer than crates or barriers, as a typical airline crate may shatter in a collision, and wire crates my also fail, and if the doors open or the windows break the dog loose behind a barrier may be ejected from the car and killed. Crates may also be ejected or fly into the windshield if they are not properly secured. The front passenger seat is only safe if the seat is pushed as far back as it can go, the airbags for that seat are turned off, and the dog is properly belted in.

    Great article!

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus