How do I travel by car with my dog?

The car is a low-stress means of transportation for the dog. Unlike cats, dogs often even love to travel by car. Unlike our feline companions, they can easily get out when they stop, held on a leash. However, if you wish to take him on such trips, you must get him used to it from a young age.

It is more prudent to make him travel on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to give him anything to eat twelve hours before the trip to prevent him from vomiting inside. It is the SPA that says so. If your dog is anxious in the car, you can always give him a dog stress reliever such as Zylkene capsules, without danger or side effects for him. Also plan to buy small bags to collect his poop.

If the basket and crate are suitable for small dogs, a grid or separation net in the back of the car is recommended for medium and large dogs.

Crate, basket and carrier bag

This is the best method for small dogs because it will allow them to better withstand the road and they will be less likely to vomit. Buy a crate that is proportional to the size of your small dog, neither too small nor too large. Preferably choose a crate that matches the size of his usual basket.

Contrary to popular belief, the crate is a reassuring space for the dog. But be careful not to place it on the passenger seat, even with a belt. In case of an impact, under the pressure of the belt, the dog would be violently expelled from the vehicle. If possible, place it between the front seat and the front bench seat or on the rear seat, placed high up to reduce oscillation and secured with a seat belt to prevent it from falling or moving, which could make your dog sick.

Net and separation grid

If you have a spacious trunk with room for one or more dogs, such as a minivan, station wagon, 4×4, crossover or van, install a grill or separation net between the front and rear of the vehicle to isolate your dog from other users. This will allow your dog to be installed comfortably and safely, without being tied up or locked in a crate, and will not interfere with driving. For greater comfort for your doggie, don’t hesitate to buy dog beds or dog rugs to place in your trunk.

Warning: however, if you have a small trunk that is completely isolated from the passenger compartment, absolutely avoid putting your dog in it! He could suffer from claustrophobia or die asphyxiated by exhaust fumes.

Other accessories for your dog in the car

It is also possible to hold your dog with a short leash without a muzzle or a padded harness to protect your dog in case of sudden braking. If you have a small dog, the ideal is still to buy a 2 in 1 car seat and bag, which has a fastening belt to ensure its safety on the road.

There are also folding ramps for dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or arthritis, or as a preventive measure for older dogs in order to preserve their sensitive joints, to make getting on and off the road safer for your dog.

A break every two hours

If you are travelling long distances, plan to give your child regular breaks every two hours so that they can stretch their legs, stay hydrated or relieve themselves. You must always keep your dog on a leash when you take him out. Avoid feeding your dog unless it’s a long trip, as this may cause nausea. In this case, it’s best to feed your dog in small quantities. In hot weather, prefer places in the shade.

No dogs loose in the car

The highway code makes no mention of dogs and the legislation is rather vague as far as they are concerned. However, dogs should not be allowed to move around in your car, especially when it is in motion. In fact, the owner must be able to remain in control of his vehicle under all circumstances.

It is strictly forbidden to leave your dog lying on the bench or on the ground. It is therefore imperative that the dog be transported in a secure manner. It must be tied up or transported in a suitable space. A “stray” dog in the car can prove to be a real danger to the driver if the dog distracts the driver, prevents him from seeing the road properly or from having access to the controls of the vehicle and being able to carry out his manoeuvres comfortably, or presses the brake or accelerator pedals in his place.

In the event of a collision, even the smallest dogs become lethal projectiles for the motorist and will pass through the passenger compartment before being run over on the road. In a 50 km/h impact, the weight of the dog is multiplied by 25! Similarly, a dog that weighs only 10 kg, in the event of an accident, becomes a fatal projectile of 250 kg for the driver and passengers.

Moreover, if you are stopped with a dog walking freely in your vehicle, you are liable to a 2nd class fine (22€) on the grounds that your dog may constitute an obstacle to your freedom of movement or your field of vision. Even 4th class (90€) if the police consider your dog as an unrestrained passenger like any other. Your vehicle may even be immobilized. This applies even if it is stationary. And even for dogs that are wise and trained to behave well in the car, because unpredictable behaviour is never excluded.

Also note that a dog that barks non-stop can also be dangerous to the driver’s concentration or mood, not to mention the inconvenience to passengers.

A cool and airy but safe car

If you open the windows of your vehicle, make sure that your dog cannot go overboard and that no one can reach inside the vehicle with their arm to open the door from the outside. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you purchase a safety grill on the side window. This will secure the dog while allowing air to circulate inside the vehicle. Please note that letting your dog’s head through the door may cause him/her to suffer from ear infections, conjunctivitis, colds or irritation due to dust entering the eyes, nostrils or ears.

If, in hot weather, your house is not air-conditioned, you will have to leave the windows ajar for your dog and this ventilation grille will be very useful. However, this does not solve the problem of traffic jams. For example, if your non-air-conditioned car gets stuck in traffic in the summer, your dog could get sunstroke, which could cost him his life because of the heat and lack of air. Therefore, if the traffic jam is likely to persist, it is imperative that you take your dog outside, holding him on a leash while waiting for the traffic to improve.

We can never remind you enough: never leave an animal alone in hot weather or in the sun! Even with the windows open, even for only a few minutes and even if it’s not very hot! Your machine very quickly turns into a real oven, multiplying the heat outside tenfold. In only a few minutes, the temperature can exceed 50° C and your pet is guaranteed to die. The dog lacks air, does not have the capacity to regulate its temperature correctly and dies. So whatever the situation, always take your dog with you on a leash!

Also remember to give him a drink regularly to avoid dehydration, which can be fatal in hot weather. Be especially vigilant for symptoms. If the dog drools, gasps and his tongue turns purple, consult a veterinarian as a matter of urgency.