Safe and Enjoyable Car Travel with Dogs

Holidaying with your dog can be an extremely enjoyable experience. However some owners find travelling with their dog in the car to be quite frustrating. Some dogs readily travel with no problems, whereas others may be anxious or suffer from car sickness. There are a few important pointers which can help ensure that car travel with your dog is a positive experience.

Warning: This is NOT recommended for your next trip!

Any dog which is not used to regular car travel may benefit from a few practice runs prior to long distance travel. Practice runs involve short, local trips to acclimatise the dog to the noises and movements of the car and to check if the dog suffers from car sickness.

Travelling with a dog which suffers from car sickness can be a daunting task when considering long distance car travel. If short practice runs do not acclimatise your dog to car travel or if the dog has a history of travel sickness your veterinarian should be consulted. Your veterinarian can discuss medical options which may relieve anxiety and help control travel sickness in dogs. Do not use travel sickness or anti-anxiety pet medications without veterinary advice. It is also recommended not to feed your dog immediately prior to travel to reduce the likelihood of travel sickness.

It is essential to ensure that dogs are safely secured in the car for any travel. Dogs should be secured in a manner which prevents them from moving around the cabin of the vehicle. This ensures the safest method of travel for both the dog and other occupants in the case of a car accident. The use of car dog harnesses are useful for this purpose. The harness secures around the dog with the main support across the sternum and is then secured to the existing car seatbelt. Manufacturer's instructions should be carefully followed. In the case of a motor vehicle accident the dog is prevented from becoming a projectile which could cause injury to the dog and/or humans in the car.

By securing your dog appropriately in the car, care should also be taken to ensure that no part of the animal's body can protrude from the vehicle. The feel of wind on a dog's face as it pokes its head out of a window may be enjoyable for the dog but risks potential injury. Windows should only be opened enough to allow adequate ventilation whilst ensuring that the dog cannot poke its head out. This also helps prevent unintended escape through open windows.

It is very dangerous to transport dogs on the back of trucks or utes. Animals transported in this manner can suffer severe injuries.

Owners will find that regularly stopping along the trip to allow for toilet and exercise stops will greatly enhance the travel experience with a dog in the car. Dog bowls and adequate cool water should be taken on the trip to offer the dog at every stop. Ensure that the dog is walked on a secure dog lead and not allowed to wander unleashed. Roaming dogs can run away and also pose a road hazard to other drivers and may be hit by a car.

Whenever owners stop for their own food/bathroom stops dogs should not be left unattended in the car. Temperatures inside cars in hot weather can soar rapidly to dangerously high levels. Dogs will rapidly succumb to heat stress which is a potentially life threatening condition. If your dog is behaving well, a dog treat at this time is appropriate.

Many owners do not like animal hair to be shed on their car upholstery. Car seat covers for animals are available and can help alleviate this problem, and it's always helpful to do some pet grooming with a good dog brush or comb before the trip.

Ensuring that all accommodation needs of your pet are adequately met will help alleviate the stress of travelling with dogs. Many holiday accommodation properties are pet friendly where animals are welcome and the property may provide dog fencing. These properties can be found on many internet sites and specific questions should be asked of the proprietor to ensure the property is appropriate for your dog.

Car travel with dogs can be an enjoyable and easily managed experience if some forethought is used and basic safety issues addressed with the use of the right pet supplies.