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Car Safety for dogs- Travelling Do’s and Don’ts

Latest News Tags: car safety, travelling with dogs

Dog car safety

Going on family trips or holidays can be great if your dog can go too. However, travelling with a dog can take a lot of planning and is not as simple as some might think. Here, we discuss car safety for dogs and the do’s and don’ts for travelling with your furry friends.

DO restrain your dog

The highway code states that motorists should always ensure that their dogs are “suitable restrained” when travelling in a car. Use a good quality harness or crate to keep them in. When choosing a crate, ensure that the outside is strong and will not be at risk of crushing. Also, ensure the floor of the crate is soft for the dog to lie down on. Placing their favourite blanket at the bottom can be comforting for your dog.

DO take lots of water

Always take plenty of water for the trip as your dog needs to have access to water at all times. Purchase travel water bowls to ensure your dog always has water nearby.

DO help your dog relax

Some dogs can become extremely anxious when travelling. Try and avoid this by ensuring they are comfortable and give them their favourite toy to play with. Some dogs may be anxious because they are only used to travelling in a car when they are off to the vets. If this is the case, your dog will associate car journeys with something negative. Therefore, drive your dog to places they find fun as well so that they don’t make this connection.

DO make regular breaks

Plan your journey in advance to allow time for regular breaks. Not only can they benefit the other passengers, they allow the dog to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and go to the toilet.

DO prepare for motion sickness

It is common for dogs to be car sick, although many outgrow this condition as they get older and become used to the car. Try to ensure the dog is facing forward so that they are looking in the same direction you are travelling. Try to feed them a couple of hours before you leave as this will allow time for the food to settle and hopefully will lower the chance of vomiting. If you are concerned about your dog’s car sickness, consult with your vet before going on any long car journeys.

DO open the windows

Whenever possible have the windows open so that the dog has access to fresh air and means the cold breeze can circulate the car and cool the temperature down.

DO take a pet first aid kit

You can never be too prepared and you will be grateful for a pet first aid kit if anything happened. In this kit you can include liquid dishwashing detergent for cleaning, a pet-safe antiseptic ointment, scissors, tweezers, disposable gloves and absorbent gauze pads among other things that you may need in an emergency. It is better to be on the safe side.

DO have your vet details at hand

Always be aware of where the nearest vet clinic is for emergencies. It is a good idea to also have your local vet’s number saved in your phone so that you can ring them for any medical information about your dog. Bring your dog’s vaccination records as well in case they are needed.

DON’T leave dogs in parked cars

Try to avoid doing this in all weather, but especially on warm days. It can take minutes for a dog to overheat and heat stroke is extremely common and can be fatal. Also be aware that on cooler days, your car can act as a fridge and become cold quickly, which is also just as potentially dangerous for your dog.

DON’T have dogs in the front seat

Always try and keep, your dog in the back seats of the car as they are more protected. If for some reason you must have your dog in the front seat, ensure your passenger-side airbag is disabled. Otherwise, there is a risk of serious injury to your dog.

DON’T let your dog stick their head out of the window

Although your dog may enjoy doing this and it allows them to get fresh air, it can be dangerous. There is a chance that they can be hit by a passing vehicle or hit by something flying through the air.

DON’T travel without your dog being microchipped

It is imperative that your dog is microchipped and has an ID tag on them if they are travelling away from home. This will help reunite owners with their lost dogs if anything happens on the journey or on holiday.

DON’T forget to take food supplies

Take some of your dog’s regular food on car journeys with you. It will come in handy if you cannot get to a shop later on or if you get stuck in traffic.


Car safety for dogs can often be overlooked. Whether it is for a long holiday or a day at the beach, there will be plenty of times when you take your dog on a car trip. Some preparation beforehand and ensuring you follow these guidelines will give you peace of mind that your dog will remain happy and safe for the journey.


Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed