Driving Daisy: Things to Consider for Dogs Riding in Cars

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There’s nothing quite like seeing the joy a dog experiences when he gets to go for a ride in the car. But, for dogs riding in cars, there are safety and health issues you should be aware of before you put the car into drive.

The mere mention of the word "car" to your average canine, often sends him into paroxysms of joy. Many dogs quickly associate "car" with that wonderful sensation of being carried at great speeds, with the wind blowing through their hair.

But, there are things to consider for dogs riding in cars, such as ensuring that your dog is comfortable, calm, and, of course, safe.

Feeling Queasy

Just like you, dogs can get motion sickness from being in the car. Many people are aware of the nauseating signs of motion sickness and the effect it can have on a relaxing vacation. But, did you know that motion sickness could also affect your dog? A sick dog is not a happy traveling companion.

Motion sickness is an illness associated with motion — as in a car, a boat, or an airplane. Since vacations typically involve traveling, dogs prone to motion sickness don’t always enjoy the trek to the final destination.

The cause of motion sickness is stimulation of the vestibular apparatus located within the inner ear. When this apparatus is stimulated, your dog feels dizzy and nausea may develop. Usually, the signs of motion sickness stop when the vehicle stops moving. Dogs afflicted with motion sickness begin drooling, feel nauseated, and may even develop vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog is known to experience motion sickness that is not easily treated, you may want to reconsider bringing him along on vacation.

Buckle Up

When driving, a seat belt can be the thing that saves your life. This goes for dogs, too. Giving dogs free range in the car is unsafe and can be deadly. Traveling with your dog can be made safer and easier by the use of automotive restraints. Like you, your dog is safer when he is properly secured in the vehicle in the event of an accident or unexpected distraction.

We’ve all seen dogs riding in cars and trucks that had free range of the vehicle. This is a tremendous risk for injury. Dogs that sit in their owner’s laps or bounce from seat to seat can disrupt your field of vision or attention span. Hanging his head out of the window can cause serious eye injuries. A sudden stop with your dog in the back of an open vehicle can send him flying into traffic. Or he may make the decision to jump out at something he finds appealing with no warning.

Even dogs who are well behaved in the vehicle benefit from proper restraints. In the event of an accident, a restraint can keep your dog within your vehicle. Many dogs will run away if they are disoriented or injured. The last thing you want is to have to look for your scared or injured dog in unfamiliar surroundings. Check out your local pet supply store for dog safe automotive restraints.

Driving Dangers

A fun car ride with your dog can quickly turn dangerous if you’re not careful. Be aware of common dangers that can occur with your pooch in the car.

Dogs love to go for car rides. For many dogs, their favorite words are “bye-bye.” Some dogs jump, prance, smile, and bark with delight at the thought of a car ride. How many times have you seen dogs hanging out the car window? Or on the owners lap looking as happy as can be?

Yes, going for a ride in the car can be fun, but driving with dogs can also be very dangerous to both you and your dog. There has been several cases of owners that were in an accident — caused by their dog — in which they were injured, the car they hit had some severe injuries, and their dogs were killed.

There are some very common dangers and causes of injuries that can be prevented — and if you understand them, it will help keep you and your dog safe.

The First Ride

How should you transport your new puppy home in the car? This is probably one of the first questions you ask yourself after you have signed off on your new puppy. Should he be transported in a crate? Should he be allowed to gallivant around between the seats? Should he be on your lap? Is it better to have him in the front or back? What are the issues? What are we trying to achieve and what risks are we trying to avoid?

For starters, make sure the pup has had an opportunity to urinate and/or defecate before embarking on the ride. No solid food should be given to the pup for 2-3 hours prior to a short trip. It may be necessary to bring food for the pup on longer trips. If a pup is not nauseous or fearful, he may want to eat.

Have the pup ride in the rear seat of the car on one person's lap (yes, you need two people to make this work). He should be rested on or wrapped in a familiar blanket and have at least one familiar toy to play with. Use a crate for older, confident, non crate-shy pups. Again, supply a familiar blanket and toy. Whatever you do, don't allow the pup in the front seat and don't allow him to perambulate freely. Quite apart from any possible injury to the pup, he may become a missile in the event of an accident.


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Be Prepared

If your dog suffers an injury while you’re driving together, it’s important to be prepared. Emergencies can occur anytime and the best thing to do is to be ready for anything. Having a first-aid kit ready will help to reduce anxiety if an emergency does happen. Keep the kit readily available and periodically check to make sure all the items are up to date and present. A small plastic toolbox or fishing tackle box works well to hold all the necessary equipment.

On the outside of the box, write your name, address, and telephone number in case you lose it. Also include the telephone number of your veterinarian as well as the telephone number of a local veterinary emergency facility.

Once the emergency information is complete, it’s a good idea to have separate information sheets for each pet. Include a photo of each pet with the name, age, breed, sex, identification (micro chipping information), and any health problems. This can help if your pet is lost or if someone unfamiliar with your pet is needed to care for him.

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