Thinking of taking your pooch travelling–up to the cottage for the long weekend, or to points further?
Here are a few things that you may want to keep in mind to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.
1) Is your dog properly restrained?
For the protection of your pet and other passengers in the car, your pet should be restrained in the back seat. There are many ways you can restrain your dog in the car.
One option is to use a crate. Make sure you have a crate large enough that your dog is able to get up and turn around, and secure the crate well in the back of your car to prevent it from tipping over.
Seat barriers are another good way to keep your pet safely in the back seat. The seat barrier fastens between the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat to prevent your dog from jumping in to the front of your car while you drive. Some seat barriers also form a bridge over the foot well, creating a large flat area in the back seat of your car
If you have a station wagon or SUV, you can also use a pet barrier to keep your dog in the cargo compartment of your car.
Seat belts harnesses attach to the car’s seat belt system and protect your pet in the event of sudden stops. These should not be used in the front seat because your pet may still distract the driver and is at risk from the passenger airbag.
A car seat may be used for smaller dogs. A car seat will both restrain your pet and elevate him or her to look out the window. This may not be ideal for a dog prone to motion sickness, and the seat will move slightly, and looking out the window can trigger nausea.
2) Is your dog fearful in the car?
Some dogs are fearful while in the car. If your dog has decided that the car is scary, you will have to work hard to change their negative association in to a positive one. One way to do this is to use his or her favourite treats and toys when entering and when in the car. If they get a yummy treat or a toy every time they enter the car they will soon become less fearful and be calmer about car journeys! Remember that one reason your dog is afraid of the car may be that he or she gets motion sick. If this is the case, skip the treats and go for toys instead. Read more about handling motion sickness below.
Another way to keep your dog calm is to use a product called Adaptil. Adaptil is an over the counter product that releases pheromones that calm your dog down by mimicking the natural dog appeasing pheromone a mother dog emits after giving birth. Adaptil comes in a spray, collar or diffuser. For the purpose of car travel, we recommend using the collar, spray or both together. Spray objects that are going in your pets area of the car, such as a their crate, towel, blanket, bed, car interior, toys or bandana. After spraying, allow 15 minutes for the alcohol in the spray to evaporate before putting your dog in the car. The collar can be used as well by simply adjusting it to your dog’s neck and trimming off the excess piece. Read more about Adaptil.
3) Does your dog experience motion sickness?
If you’ve ever been motion sick, you know how unpleasant it can be to be in a moving car. If your dog is experiencing car sickness, he or she will likely drool, or vocalize, pace around the vehicle, and ultimately vomit. If this sounds like your pet, speak to your vet about the best anti-nausea medication for your situation. There are various medications, both over the counter and prescription, that can help take this symptom away. Never use human medications on your dog without consulting your vet.
Another tip to minimize motion sickness is to cover your side windows using a blanket or towel, as the sideways movement may contribute to making your dog feel nauseous.
4) Will your dog need a break during your trip?
It’s important to consider the amount of time you will be travelling in the car with your dog. If you are going for a drive around the corner, of course there is no need to stop. However, if you are going to be travelling in the car for an extended period of time, you should stop and take breaks during your drive. Make sure your dog gets the chance to stretch and relieve him or herself as well as rehydrate on steady ground! Use a leash–your dog will be in unfamiliar territory and may react nervously to other people, vehicles or pets.
5) Does your dog have water?
Your dog should have access to water throughout the car ride to make sure they are staying hydrated, especially during the summer. Look for special travel bowls that have weighted bottoms and a lip to prevent spills.
6) Is your dog overheated?
During the warmer months, you will want to keep a close eye on your dog and watch for the signs of being overheated. Some of these signs are panting and rapid breathing, drooling, dry gums, lethargy and becoming warm to the touch. To avoid this, make sure your car is well air conditioned and most importantly: Do not leave your dog locked in a hot car! Even with the windows cracked, even in the shade, even if you don’t think the day is that warm, a car can become fatally hot in a matter of minutes. If your dog does become over heated, you should move him/her to a cool area immediately. If you have access to cold water, you can drench a towel and drape it over your dog as well as holding it on their paw pads. Lastly, you should contact your vet immediately as your dog may need medical attention.
Make sure you are prepared with anything you need such as bowls, water bottles, treats, and toys before you depart on your trip!
Travelling in the car with your dog can be easily made in to a fun, safe and comfortable experience. Although sometimes it can be stressful, remembering these tips will allow you to take your buddy with you where ever you go so they don’t need to miss out on the fun! If you have any other questions about travelling in the car with your dog, please don’t hesitate to email or call us!