How to Transport Your Pets While Driving : Safety First

How to Transport Your Pets While Driving

Written by: Valerie Cox

Each time we drive our vehicles, we fasten our seat belt and make sure our children are buckled in, but what about our pets?  Just like humans, animals need protection too. Follow these several easy steps on how to transport your pets while driving to ensure your furry friend’s safety.

Driving with your pet roaming around your vehicle is not only a danger to your pet but also to yourself and other motorists.  Thousands of wrecks happen every year because of unrestrained pets, and wrecks caused by pets are considered distracted driving.  In Hawaii, driving with a pet on your lap is illegal, and many other states are following suit with pet transportation legislation.  Not only are you placing your life in danger, you can face steep monetary fines.

How to Transport Your Pets While Driving
Photo by: Valerie Cox

While riding in a vehicle, a crate is one of the safest ways for your pet to travel.  Crates hold your pet which will alleviate distracted driving on your part.  Many animals, in particular cats, prefer to ride in crates, but it is the safest option for any type of animal.  When choosing a crate, make sure there is proper air circulation for your pet, and you should confirm the crate is safety certified and crash tested.  Some crates have crash bags inside, and your veterinarian should have recommendations based on your pet’s breed and size.  After you purchase your crate, secure it with a seat belt or tie-down straps (offers the most protection).  Animals should always ride in the backseat or in a cargo area because riding in the front seat is dangerous due to the airbags and projection possibility.

An alternative to using a crate is a harness, and this option is geared toward dogs.  The restraint should allow the dog to sit down but not roam around.  A short tether option is better because it will allow less length for your dog to be thrown around if your vehicle is in a wreck.  The harness should run down the center of the chest and have thick shoulder pads to prevent crush injuries and lacerations.  Restraints are designed to use in the cargo area, and if your pet is riding in the cargo area, you might consider investing in a car mat or pet barrier to protect your flooring.

How to Transport Your Pets While Driving
Photo: Samuel Barnes, Flickr

Allowing animals to stick their heads out of the window seems fine, but this is one of the worst activities you can allow your pet to do.  Having their heads out of the windows can lead to damage to their eyes, mucous membranes, and heads from wind and debris.  In addition, some animals will be inclined to jump out of the window because they are fascinated by something you drove by.  When your pet is riding with you, turn off the automatic button feature and do not allow your pet access to the outside of the vehicle.

Even if you are only leaving your vehicle for a few minutes, the temperature effect can be catastrophic for your pet.  In just ten minutes, a car temperature can rise 19°, and within an hour, the temperature can climb up to 43°.  Even if it’s just a quick stop, do not leave your pet in your vehicle, and if you are traveling for an extended period, bring a bowl and water along for your pet.

Simple actions, like transporting your pet in a crate and not leaving your pet in a hot car, can have a positive impact on your driving and on your pet’s life.  Before you transport your furry friend again, make sure to research the safety options best for your pet.

How to Transport Your Pets While Driving

Guest Writer: Valerie Cox

Valerie enjoys taking her dog Emma, 4 year old Golden Retriever, on walks and to the dog park, where Emma enjoys playing with her “friends.”  Some of Valerie’s favorites include Taylor Swift, Coke Zero, and The Good Wife, and she enjoys living life to the fullest but also making time to enjoy the small moments.


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6 thoughts on “How to Transport Your Pets While Driving : Safety First”

  1. Jeanne,

    As always you have a great post here! It’s timely for me since, as you know I recently got my (unintentional) designer dog – Lexi. So the dynamic when driving with all 3 has changed somewhat.

    I must admit, my 2 big German Shepherds have always each had their own spot on the back seat. With no harnesses or crates, which is very naughty of me. They’re super obedient in the car though. The thing that’s got me doing research is the increase in stories of missing dogs I’m seeing on Face Book after a car accident. I would freak out if my dogs went missing like that! So I’ve been doing research into those seat belt harnesses. Lexi rides shotgun because she’s the only one of the 3 that fits on the front seat with Charley and Zè on the back seat.

    My car’s too small for crates that can take German Shepherds, so the harness is my only option. Or, maybe it’s time to ask hubby for a new, bigger car!

    After this post I’ll be sorting this out over the weekend!

    Rosemary recently posted…7 Ways to Fix Floppy German Shepherd Puppies EarsMy Profile

    • I would love to have that dilemma of how to travel with 2 German Shepherds, Rosemary. I think you know I lost my Star a couple years ago to bone cancer. She was 14 years old. I would love to have another, but my situation has changed and I no longer feel I have the energy it would take to start over. Anyway, my advice to you is to get hubby to buy you a bigger car. You can tell him I sent you. 🙂 Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate your visits. 🙂

  2. i dont use a crate when i take my girls along, i know it is probably best, but they like to sit in the front seat, the air bags dont come on and they all have seat belts and harnesses.

    • I must confess, my dog sits in the front seat too. He wouldn’t have it any other way. My cat, though, does sit in a crate if she has to go anywhere, which is rare. She’s too stressed otherwise. I’m glad you stopped by, Sandy. Come back soon!

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