Safety tips for driving with your dog

It might look fun but this is a terrible idea!

It might look fun but this is a terrible idea!

We all love to take our pups on car rides with us, and most of them really enjoy the ride!  While this can be good entertainment and a source of bonding, there are some inherent associated risks. All too often in veterinary medicine we see pets that were simply running an errand with their owner, when an accident happens and the pet is now in the emergency room with multiple severe injuries.  

Often these accidents occur when pets are not restrained in the car, or the window is down. One wrong turn and this can lead to severe damage, including fractures, ruptured urinary bladders, internal bleeding, and trauma to the chest causing a pneumothorax. These can be life-threatening injuries, which require extensive care and surgery to resolve.  

These injuries are often preventable with a few simple steps and planning ahead.

  • Pets should always be restrained while riding in the car.  There are many pet seat belts/harnesses available that click right into your current seat belt.  If this is not an option, a section of the car can be sectioned off to prevent jumping and/or falling.
  • While dogs love to stick their heads out the window, it is not necessary to have the window all the way down for them to enjoy the fresh air.  Keeping the window slightly cracked to allow fresh air, but not open enough for the dog to jump out the window is acceptable, and safe.
  • Believe it or not, dogs have been known to step on the window controls and lower the windows themselves.  Keeping the child lock on the windows prevents dogs from performing this action, and keeps them safe.
  • Never allow dogs to ride in the bed of a truck to be unrestrained.  Dog's can safely travel in the bed of the truck IF kept in a crate that is tied down.

Dogs are wonderful companions, and it is fun for everyone for them to travel with the family. Being cautious and thinking ahead can prevent severe, life-threatening injuries. Harnesses, seat belts, and crates are readily available in local pet stores and online.  This relatively inexpensive purchase can save the life of your four-legged friend.

Blog Post Author:
Melissa Arbaugh, DVM, MS, DACVS
Pacific Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Service