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Getting ready to take your dog on a car trip? Before you hit the open road, there are a few things you can do to ensure your dog is safe in the car. That way, you can crack the windows, feel the breeze, and enjoy the scenery, knowing your dog is safe and sound.

Road Trip Essentials for Your Dog’s Safety

The first part of dog car safety is making sure you have these essentials on hand:

Car Safety Equipment

Cars come standard with seat belts for a reason. Unfortunately, vehicles don’t come with doggy seat belts, so you need to purchase equipment that’s tested for canine safety. In the event of an accident, you’ll want to know your dog is secure in a carrier or safety harness to restrict them from harmful movement.

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First Aid Kit

You just never know what may happen on the road. It’s good idea to have a first aid kit for you and your dog in case of an emergency or medical issue.

Extra Leash and Collar

Keeping your dog close to you keeps them safe. Having a spare collar and leash is always a good idea. Keep them in the glove box of your car, so if one leash and collar gets wet, dirty, or tangled, you’ll have another set on hand.

Medical Records

In case something unfortunate happens, like getting into an accident or encountering an emergency or natural disaster while traveling, being able to share your dog’s medical history can make all the difference. Knowing exactly what shots your dog has had, what medications they take, and whether they have any preexisting conditions is very important.


If your dog is particular about what water they’ll drink, consider bringing some from home. It’s also good to have water if you get stranded. And don’t forget to bring bowls.

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Poop Bags

Poop bags are easy to forget when traveling, but they’re an essential item you should always have on hand. You’ll also want to consider a bag carrier that easily clips onto your leash so they never get left behind.

Dog Toys

It can be a good idea to bring along your dog’s favorite chew toy or interactive puzzle to keep them entertained during the trip. Giving your dog something to keep them occupied and taking breaks for exercise are great ways to prevent them from becoming bored or anxious.

Get Your Dog Used to Their Car Safety Equipment

Be sure to get your dog’s travel carrier or harness ahead of the trip to get them used to it and to ensure you purchased the right size.

If you’re using a carrier, simply treat it like crate training. Get your dog to love their new travel carrier by leaving the door open, so they can go in and out as they please. Any time they go in, reward them with a yummy treat or toy. Also consider feeding them meals in the crate. Once your dog is going in and out of the carrier on their own, start shutting the door and leave them in there for short periods of time. It can be helpful to do this while they enjoy a meal, toy, or treat. Gradually build up the length of time.

If your dog is using a safety harness, you’ll want to practice putting the harness on them ahead of time. Let them wear it around the house, so they get used to the feel of it. Dogs that aren’t used to wearing a harness may get stressed by a change in routine. Only leave the harness on them for a few minutes at a time at first. Practice having them wear it in the car, gradually increasing the length of time in your trips.

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Preparing Your Dog for a Safe Road Trip

Finally, start by taking your dog on a short trip to town to test out all of the equipment. This also lets you make any adjustments, if necessary, before your long drive. Some dogs get sick if they’re not accustomed to long car rides. They may be fine with a short ride, but can become anxious or sick with longer trips.

If you’re going on an extended trip, be sure to schedule a vet visit to confirm if your dog is healthy enough to travel. If your dog has a history of carsickness, your veterinarian can also provide guidance on any medications and supplements that may help ease their stomach.

Avoid feeding your dog right before you hit the road. Once on the road, try and plan mealtimes ahead of time. You’ll want to have at least one hour for your dog’s stomach to settle before driving again.

These are just simple tips, but following them will help you have a safe road trip with your dog and one that you can both enjoy.

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: The Complete Guide to Traveling With Your Dog
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