Imagine seeing your dog sitting on your lap, beside you, or in the passenger seat, looking out the window as its eyes marvel at the different sights and sounds of the world. However, while your dog appears to be enjoying the cool breeze, it is actually unsafe for both you and your pet, warned AARP, a US-based interest group focusing on issues affecting seniors.
Lori Teller, a veterinarian with Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston, cautioned, "There are instances of small dogs and cats jumping into the floor well and getting caught behind the brake, preventing the driver from stopping the car."
It is also unsafe to travel with your pet on your lap, as this can be distracting to you. In case of an accident, your dog may likely be crushed between you and the airbag, or the steering wheel. However, despite these precautions and what-if situations, there are ways you can take to safeguard yourself and your dog, depending on its size and your type of vehicle.
Problems Displayed By Dogs During Car Transport (2012)
A total of 907 questionnaires were used in the study, as they were completed and properly filled in by the respondents, said Chiara Mariti and colleagues of journal portal Research Gate. All dogs in the sample were transported by car at least once while 4.7% were no longer transported by car. 75.4% were moved by care over 10 times a year, whereas 14.3% were moved on to five times and 10.3% six to 10 times.
Among respondents who said they rarely (maximum of five times a year) transported their dogs, or no longer transported their dogs, they cited the following reasons: having a big garden/living in the countryside (48.2%), dogs displaying problems related to car transport (14.5%) and dogs being ill or elderly (12.0%). Regarding the frequency of destinations and length of car transportation, 45.8% said they often travel up to 50 km (45.8%), 50 to 150 km (12.2%), and over 150 km (8.7%).
They also mentioned resorting to often transport their dogs via car to go to veterinary clinics (22.5%) and to the awashing/grooming ship (6%). The respondents also answered “for walking” (36.1%) and “for activities (sports, hunting, training, etc.)” (20.8%). When asked about the means of restraint of dogs during car transport, the respondents said they often use net/grating (27%), kennel (16.3%), seat belt for dogs/lead (11%), truck (0.6%), box/bag/basket (0.1%), seat belt for people (0.1%), and dog’s bed (0.1%).
Alternatively, almost all respondents did not use truck (99.4%), box/bag/basket (99.5%), seat belt for people (99.9%), and dog’s bed (99.9%) as their means of restraint when transporting dogs via car. A smaller proportion of respondents said they never used net/grating (65.8%), kennel (77.6%), and seat belt for dogs/lead (84.1%).
86% of dogs had become accustomed to car transport when they were puppies while 7.9% had not. However, 6.1% of dogs were not known if they had become accustomed to car transport. According to the owners, their dogs were usually taken by car in the rear of an estate car (46.7%), on the back seat (24.1%), not in a fixed place (17.4%), at the passengers’ feet (4.7%), on a passenger’s lap (3.0%), on the front seat (1.7%), in the cab (0.6%), on the ledge (0.4%) or other (1.3%).
65.8% did not administer anything to the dog before traveling while others provided water (33%) and food (19.8%). During the transport, the canines were reportedly provided with a blanket (47.9%), nothing (37.6%), water (27.0%), toys (13.1%) and food (3.5%). 76.2% of dogs were reported always to respond positively, but the remaining 23.8% responded always negatively (6.7%), responded negatively but stopped (8.7%), showed different responses according to the situation (6.8%), and responded positively but started to have problems (1.6%).
23.8% of dogs were reported to have problematic behaviors during car transport. 96.3% of respondents said they did not administer any treatment/substances while 1.3% used medications (maropitant, acepromazine, other sedative or antiemetic drugs). Some owners used dog-appeasing pheromones (1.1%), Bach Flower remedies (1.1%), and homeopathic remedies (0.2%).
Traveling Safely With A Dog In A Car
1. Use A Carrier
Smaller dogs should be inside a crate or carrier when traveling via car. Ensure that the crate will not fall or slide around, which can injure your dog during sudden stops or turns. If you have an SUV, minivan, or a larger vehicle, you could install a pet barrier so that your dog can be placed in the back.
Check if your vehicle has tie-downs as these can secure your dog’s crate during transport. If you own a large breed dog and a large vehicle, consider using the cargo areas instead of the backseat. Have your pet get used to traveling in a car. If you do not regularly transport your dog, start building journeys by going on short car trips before resorting to longer trips, advised Olliers Motor Law, a provider of comprehensive advice and/or representation for any motoring allegation in England and Wales.
2. Know Your Local Area’s Laws
For example, rule 58 of the Highway Code stated that "When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.” The Highway Code recommended owners to use a seat belt harness, a dog cage, a dog guard, or a pet carrier to restrain animals in cars. Breaching it may not be an offense in itself, but there are a number of offenses that could arise when you are driving an unrestrained pet. Be sure to check your area’s local laws before traveling with your dog.
3. Keep Your Dog Inside When Traveling
If your dog is looking out of the window while you are driving at moderate to high speeds, it will get dirt and debris in their eyes, ears, and nose, stated Teller. Keep your car’s air condition on considering that dogs can easily suffer from heatstroke. For example, Phoenix, Arizona, dog owner and pet sitter Marian Lindholtz said temperatures can reach up to a scorching 100 degrees. She added, “We never drive them anywhere if the AC doesn't work," she says.
4. Take Breaks
Take breaks at regular intervals when embarking on a journey with your dog. Offer it fresh drinking water at appropriate times and allow them to exercise during breaks.
5. Never Leave Your Pet Alone In A Vehicle
It is not enough to leave a window open or park your vehicle in a shade since cars can get hot very quickly. Since dogs cannot cool down as efficiently as humans, they are more at risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
The purpose of transporting your dog via car ranges from going to the clinic to embarking on an adventure. Review traffic laws and train your dog to get used to traveling by car. Take safety measures before revving up your car’s engine for a wild adventure with your pooch!