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Pet Insurance

01 Oct 2019

Driving in cars with dogs

We all love spending time with our pets, and like any part of the family, we take them with us when we go on a road trip when we can. To make sure we all arrive at our destination safely, there are some measures we need to take to ensure our pooch is just as safe as we are when travelling in a car. 

Here are our top 10 tips for travelling in cars with dogs:

1. Get your dog used to the car

Before you head off on your trip, get your dog used to being in a car. Start by letting your dog spend some time in your car with you, when you are not moving. Once they’re comfortable in the car then you can move on to trips while the car is moving. Build up to any long trips by taking your dog for short drives to begin with.

2. Avoid feeding your dog right before a trip

Pit stops are not only unavoidable on long trips, but recommended. To help make it further into your trip before you need to stop, avoid feeding your dog for a few hours before your trip. Of course if your pet has any dietary or medical requirements that means they must eat, please be sure not to miss their feed. We recommend you see your vet if you have any concerns around travelling with your dog.


3. Dog car harness

It’s important that dogs are secured safely when travelling in a car. Seat belts are useful for dogs, as well as humans. Make sure that you attach the seat belt to your dogs properly fitted harness and not to your dog's collar. Sudden stopping or jerking of the car could injure your pooch if attached to a collar; whereas a harness will help protect in case of an accident.


4. Exercise your dog before long trips

Our pets can get restless just like we do on long trips, so where possible before long trips, play with your dog or let them have a run around. This will hopefully make them ready for a rest when you set off on your car ride.


5. Pack toys or your dogs favourite blanket to keep them occupied and happy

We all want to make car trips as comfortable as possible for everyone, including for our furry friends. A good way to keep them comfortable is surrounding them with the things that make them happy and settled. It could be their favourite pillow or blanket or maybe even a chew toy. If it’s the chew toy, make sure it won’t distract you when driving and maybe opt for the toy that doesn't make a noise.


6. Never leave your dog unattended in a car

Dogs can become dehydrated and also be affected by heatstroke. Temperatures inside cars can heat up very fast, espcecially on hot days. In fact, according to The Humane Society when temperatures outside hit 26.7°C, temperatures inside a car can rise to 37°C in just 10 minutes.


7. Be aware of the rules for the state or territory you are driving in

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) rules state that:

  • a driver, motorcycle rider, bicycle rider or passenger must not lead an animal, including by tethering, while the vehicle is moving

    A motorcycle rider must not ride with an animal between the handlebars and the rider.

  • Animals should be seated or housed in appropriate areas. A driver must not drive with an animal in their lap

Rules can vary from state to state or territory, so be sure to check the road rules for the state or territory you are planning to drive in.


8. Never let your dog hang its head out the window

Objects can fly up and hit your dog and unexpected turns or movements of a vehicle could cause a dog to fall out the window. While it can be cute and even fun for your dog to feel the wind in their face, it's definitely dangerous. Those regular breaks are the time to let your dog play and take in some fresh air.


9. Pack wipes and disinfectant in case of accidents

Accidents happen so it's best to be prepared for when they do. As well as the doggy bags you pack for dog walks, keep a pack of disinfectant wipes handy - they'll make it easy to clean up after your pooch and also keep the car environment clean and safe for you and your family. A good tip is to go for the scented wipes. 


driving in cars with dogs tips

10. Stop for breaks

Regular breaks are your friend! After you’ve been driving for a while and your dog has regained it's energy after their play before the trip, they’ll probably need to take a little break to stretch their legs and do their business.

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