A dog looks out a car window.


Most dogs love going on car rides and pet parents enjoy taking their favorite fur-iend along on car rides for the company and a chance to spend quality time together. When you get in the car you should always buckle your seatbelt for safety. If you have a child, you strap them into a car seat to keep them safe. But what about your dog? Your dog is your furry kid and they rely on you to keep them safe so how can you keep them safe in the car? It’s important to take precautions to ensure your dog is safe while traveling in the car with you. Here are some car safety tips that can help keep your pet safe. 

Car safety tips for dogs

Don’t let your dog ride on your lap

Never let your dog ride on your lap while you’re driving. This is distracting and could cause you to get in an accident. Some states even have laws against letting your dog ride on your lap. Instead, secure your dog in your back seat. 

Safe seats for dogs

If your dog rides on the seat during car rides, the safest seat for them is the back seat. That’s because the front seat has airbags that can injure your dog if they go off during an accident. If you have to stop suddenly, your dog may be thrown up and through the windshield. If your dog keeps trying to jump into the front seat, you can purchase a barrier to prevent them from jumping into the front. If your dog must ride in the front seat, you should invest in a dog seatbelt.

Dog seat belt

A dog seat belt is a strap that you hook to your dog’s harness. Never hook it to your dog’s collar because that would be dangerous. With the strap hooked to your dog’s harness, the pulling force is spread out so your dog will be better protected in case of an accident. The seat belt should be loose enough that your dog can still comfortably move but snug enough that your dog is held in place in case of an accident. There are several types of dog seat belts including a type that snaps into your existing buckle and a type that attaches to your seatbelt strap. Choose the type that is best for your vehicle and your dog. It is best to strap your dog in the seat belt in the back seat but if your dog must ride in front, they should still be seat belted in and you should turn off the passenger side airbag if possible.

Dog car seat

Car seats are made for dogs that are small to medium size, and resemble a pet bed that hooks up to your vehicle much like a child’s car seat would. A car seat will also have a harness that holds your dog securely in the car seat while you’re driving. It basically acts as a booster seat that helps to keep your dog safe.


Another option is to use a dog kennel or crate for your dog to ride in while you’re driving. There are often stories in the news of auto accidents where pets are a passenger and they are so frightened that they run away and hide. If an accident were to occur, the crate would help protect your dog and keep them safe until help can arrive. A crate also helps provide stability to your dog. Kenneling your dog while you’re driving also helps keep your dog from distracting you, so you can pay attention to the road and focus on getting to your destination safely.

Other car safety considerations

Lock your doors and windows

Remember to lock your doors and use the child safety lock on your windows while you’re driving with your dog because you never know when your dog will decide to roll down the window and accidentally fall out or roll up the window and get their head stuck. 

Don’t leave your dog in the car

Never leave your dog alone in the car. Cold weather can be dangerous for a dog in a car and in hot weather, the temperature inside your car can rise very quickly. Even if it doesn’t seem warm to you, it still isn’t safe. You may think you can leave your dog in the car with the air conditioning running, but automobile air conditioners have been known to fail, which can lead to tragic results for your best friend. 

Pack an emergency kit

Finally, pack an emergency kit to keep in your car just in case something goes wrong while you’re out driving. Throw in a blanket, a few bottles of water and a travel water bowl, some dog poop bags, a spare collar and leash, a few toys, a dog first aid kit and your dog’s favorite freeze-dried food and treats in a resealable bag for easy traveling and treating.   

The best advice for traveling in the car with your dog is to be prepared and take precautions in advance to keep your dog safe. For more tips and tricks to maximize the time you spend with your dog, check out the Vital Essentials Blog