Four Things Not To Do When Traveling by Car With Your Dog

Taking your dog along on car rides can be a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, without some safety in place, things can quickly take a wrong turn. Surprisingly, many of the things pet owners do when driving can be quite dangerous—not only for the dogs, but also for the drivers.

Here are four things you should never do when driving with your dog:

Don’t allow your dog to stick his head out of the window.

It might look like innocent fun, but an open window can lead to a world of trouble. “Road debris has a way of finding its way to your dogs eyes and nasal passages, making for expensive veterinary bills,” says Lindsey A. Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety, a consumer advocacy organization that conducts rigorous crash testing on common pet safety products. “Rocks and gravel kick up and if you envision the ding to your windshield, think about the type of damage that small stone can do to your dog.”

Plus, Wolko points out that sudden stops can often be very risky. “Pet owners rarely think about what type of damage those sudden stop forces can do to your dog’s neck or muzzle,” says Wolko.

Don’t let your dog ride in the front seat.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) says unrestrained dogs in the front seat of a car cause about 30,000 accidents every year.

And in the case of an accident, airbags can cause serious injury to your dog—just like they would to a child riding in the front seat. “Pet owners also rarely think about the risk of injury to themselves should your pet become a projectile in the case of a crash,” according to Wolko. “The forces in some crashes have been strong enough to eject pets from the vehicle, putting the dog and all drivers on the roadway at risk.”

To avoid injuries, Wolko recommends that pets only travel secured in the back seat or cargo area of the vehicle.

Don’t ignore motion sickness.

Motion sickness is more common in puppies. For some dogs, however, getting in a car is always a prelude to tummy trouble, which can cause drooling, yawning and vomiting.

For serious cases of motion sickness, your vet can prescribe medication to help calm down your dog’s nerves (which can be worsening the problem) or to ease nausea. For milder cases, however, you can try ginger. Ginger snaps fed about 30 minutes before a trip can ease tummy discomfort and might be enough to stop motion sickness.

Don’t forget a seatbelt.

A proven restraint can not only give your pet the best possible chance of survival in a crash, but according to Wolko, they can also protect the human vehicle occupants. “Imagine a crash at 30 MPH and your dog weighs 30 pounds,” says Wolko. “That equates to a force close to 900 pounds flying through your car if your pet is unrestrained.”

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at

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