Safely Traveling with Your Pet in a Car

black and white cat

by Inger Eberhart, Cobb County Department of Public Safety, Communications Specialist

Traveling with your furry companion can be an enjoyable and memorable experience, but ensuring your pet’s safety during car journeys is paramount. Common practices like allowing pets on drivers’ laps or having them roam unrestrained in the car can lead to accidents, injuries, and distractions. To ensure the safety of both you and your four-legged friend, it’s important to follow guidelines provided by reputable sources like the Humane Society, Department of Transportation, ASPCA, and other state & local transportation agencies.

1. Buckle Up: Securing Your Pet Properly

According to the Department of Transportation, an unrestrained pet in a car can become a projectile during a crash, endangering both the pet and passengers. Invest in a pet-specific seat belt or harness that attaches to the car’s seatbelt system. This prevents your pet from moving around while keeping them safe in case of sudden stops or accidents.

2. Utilize a Crate or Carrier

The ASPCA suggests using a sturdy crate or carrier that is well-ventilated and appropriately sized for your pet. Secure the crate in the car to prevent it from shifting during sudden movements. Familiarize your pet with the crate before the trip, making it a comfortable and safe space.

3. Back Seat is Best

Both the Humane Society and transportation agencies recommend placing your pet in the back seat. Airbags in the front can be dangerous for pets, especially smaller ones. If your pet must ride in the front, disable the airbag on that side.

4. Say No to Drivers’ Laps

The Humane Society strongly advises against allowing your pet on your lap while driving. Not only does this distract the driver, but it also puts both the pet and the driver at risk. Even a small pet can obstruct your view and interfere with your ability to control the vehicle.

5. Keep Heads Inside

The Department of Transportation warns against allowing your dog to stick their head out of the window while driving. Debris, insects, or sudden movements can harm your dog, and they might even be tempted to jump out of the moving vehicle.

6. Identification and Health Records

Ensure your pet wears a secure collar with an up-to-date identification tag. If you’re traveling across state lines, some states require health certificates for pets. Check the specific requirements of your destination and carry necessary documents.

In conclusion, traveling with your pet in the car requires careful preparation and adherence to safety guidelines. Avoid letting your pet roam freely or sit on your lap while driving, as this endangers both your pet and your driving safety. Instead, secure your pet with a seat belt or a proper harness, use a crate or carrier, and ensure they remain in the back seat. A well-ventilated crate, and proper identification further contribute to a safe and enjoyable journey. By following these recommendations from reputable sources, you can embark on a road trip with your furry friend while prioritizing their safety and well-being.