Keeping your dog safe in a vehicle

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Dogs' eyes and noses are very sensitive, so they should be protected. Image: Flickr / waikikiweekly / CC-BY-SA

Pets are often a part of our family, and keeping them safe is very important. When traveling with pets in a vehicle, some owners are not careful enough about safety. There are a few basic things that every dog owner should keep in mind, be it a five-minute or five-week vehicle trip.

Where a dog should ride

Dogs should not ride unrestrained in a vehicle. If you have a large vehicle, then a crate in the back or backseat, secured, is a good option. A gate between the back seat and rear cargo area of a minivan or station wagon will also help restrain the dog. If you have a small vehicle or limited space, then a dog seat belt (yes, they exist), will keep the dog safe. Restraining a dog in a vehicle serves two purposes: keeping the dog from jumping on the driver and causing a distraction and keeping the dog restrained and safe in case of an accident.

Don’t leave a dog alone

We’ve all seen it in a parking lot – a pet in a vehicle, with the windows rolled up or just barely cracked. There are two reasons to not do this. First, vehicles can get up to more than 300 degrees on a hot day and 120 degrees on days that are just 50 or 60 degrees outside. Leaving a dog alone in a vehicle is opening the dog up to heatstroke and should simply never be done. Second, leaving a dog alone in a vehicle is inviting pet theft; thousands of dogs are stolen from vehicles each year.

Protect your pet’s eyes

Dogs love riding with their faces out the window. If possible, you should keep your dog from doing this because bees, dust, debris and rocks may fly up into their eyes, ears or nose. If you cannot or do not want to keep your dog’s head inside the car, buy your dog a pair of Doggles (or a similar product) for eye protection.

Keep your car safe around your dog

Even kept properly restrained, protected and supervised in a vehicle, a dog can still cause damage to your vehicle. First, be sure to always have a blanket to throw over the seats to keep the upholstery clean. If your dog decides to use the car as a bathroom, it could get very stinky. You should clean up the mess as quickly as possible. Soak the area with club soda, and clean the area up with carpet shampoo.


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