Car Travel with Your Dog: 7 Do’s and Don’ts

Whatever the doggie destination may be, most of us will be taking our dogs in the car. It almost goes without saying, however, that travelling in cars can be dangerous for dogs if care and common sense are not applied. 

Our friends at VetsNow, the UK’s leading emergency vets, have created a list of do’s and don’ts for car journeys with your pooch, whether they are in the front seat, back seat or the car boot. They wanted to remind us that we must always have our pets suitably restrained no matter how short the journey, to keep them safe. 

In fact, according to the Highway Code, motorists must ensure “dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop too quickly”. Insurers also warn that if dog owners fail to do this and their pet inadvertently causes them to have an accident, then their insurance company may not pay out. 


Dog car travel – Do’s 


  • Restrain your dog: Use a good quality harness, or crate or guard, to keep your dog safe. There are many on the market so do your research first or seek advice from your pet. 
  • Always carry water: Cars can get hot even they’re moving, and dogs may become dehdryated on long trips. You can buy travel water bowls to sure a drink is always on hand 
  • Make regular stops for long journeys: If they intend to be in the car for a long time, be sure to plan your journey so you can make plenty of stops. Your dog will appreciate being able to stretch their legs, enjoy a drink and some fresh air and use the toilet. 
  • Use window shades: While these are designed for babies and young children, your dog may also benefit as they help to keep cars cool and block out direct sunlight. 
  • Try to help your dog relax: There’s nothing worse than travelling with an anxious pooch. Do whatever it takes to ensure your dog is happy, content and comfortable sitting in your car. This might be as simple as giving them their favourite toy or blanket. 
  • Be mindful of motion sickness: Most dogs will outgrow this condition, but if you’re concerned about it, it’s recommended you go to your vet as they may be able to prescribe medication. It’s also worth bearing in mind dogs tend to suffer less if they’re facing forward while you’re driving. 
  • Drive to fun places! If your dog only ever goes in the car to visit the vet, they may only associate it with distress rather than entertainment. Be sure to travel to places they love visiting, too. 



Dog car travel – Don’ts 


  • Let your dog hang out the window: While this may look cute, it can be highly dangerous. There’s the risk of your dog getting hit by a passing car which could cause serious injury. 
  • Forget to switch off airbags: If your dog is secured in a harness in the front sear, be sure to move the seat as far back as possible and switch off the passenger-side airbag as it may do more harm than good if you have an accident. 
  • Open windows entirely: It’s imperative to keep your dog cool on car journeys, and this can be achieved by opening windows a little to allow breeze to circulate. But never open them entirely as your dog may try to jump out. 
  • Take your dog anywhere without an ID tag or microchip: By law, dogs who go outside must have a microship implanted by the time they’re eight weeks old and wear a collar with their owner’s name and address. 
  • Feed your dog just before you travel: This can upset your dog’s tummy and bring on motion sickness, which is the last thing you’ll want on a long journey! 
  • Leave your dog alone in a car: This is particularly dangerous on warm days. Dogs can overheat within a matter of minutes, and heat stroke is common cause of admission to VetsNow pet emergency clinics and hospitals in the summer. 
  • Forget to take a food supply: It’s worth taking some of your dog’s usual food on any long car journey, just in case you break down or get stuck in heavy traffic. 


Need some additional advice? If you are enjoying staycation at home or just enjoying a day out with your pet this summer, emergency providers Vets Now are just a tap away with Video Vets Now. You can book your appointment and get chatting to a qualified vet wherever you are in the UK.