By Kitter Spater, Owner and Head of Product Design at Kurgo Products

It’s no secret that pet parents love to travel with their dogs. According to the AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Study, nearly 56% of Americans transport their dog in their car at least once a month. Getting out with your pet is a great opportunity to be active and have fun—but it's important to plan, be prepared, and take precautions. Whether it’s just driving down to the dog park, heading out to the beach on a hot day, or taking a long overdue trip to Grandma’s house, follow these tips to make sure both of you get there safe and sound.

Safety tips are provided by Kurgo, the leading manufacturer of pet travel safety products, including dog seatbelts and harnesses. With more than 10 years of experience developing innovative products, Kurgo’s mission is to help owners and their pets get out to safely enjoy the world together.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important items to always carry with you when you travel with your dog is a water bottle. Dehydration should be a very real concern, especially considering how quickly it can occur in both humans and their pets when they travel. Play it safe and pack more than you think you'll need. 

Bring ID (and a Leash)

Hundreds of pets are lost or injured each year when they dart out of cars uncontrolled. Collars and leashes are essential for any responsible pet owner, but don’t forget about ID tags on collars and a microchip to make sure your dog can always be easily identified and your home address can be located. Remember that when in a strange and busy environment, pets can be easily frightened and run off into traffic or to places that are difficult to find.

Keep All Arms, Legs, Paws, and Heads Inside the Vehicle at All Times

If you wouldn’t let your child hang out of the window of a moving vehicle, then the same rule should apply to your pets. Even though dogs “like it,” it simply isn’t worth the risk of your pet possibly being clipped by a passing vehicle, having debris kicked up into his eyes, or exposing his lungs to exhaust pollution. By keeping your windows up, you also prevent any opportunity for your pet to hop out the window when the car is stopped.

The Front Seats Should Be a Human-Only Zone

Nearly 30% of drivers admit to being distracted by their dog while driving (AAA/Kurgo Study). This can lead to accidents and injuries to you, your pet, and other drivers. Pets should never under any circumstances be allowed in the front seat with you. Also, you should be as distraction free as possible when driving because of the immense responsibility that comes with operating a motor vehicle. This means no playing with animals, fiddling with cell phones, doing makeup, eating, or messing with the radio. 

Got a dog who insists on riding shotgun? There are many excellent products designed to specifically help keep your pets in the backseat. Which leads us to...

Don’t Forget to Buckle Up!

There are plenty of ways to keep your pet safely buckled up in the backseat. The most common example is using a crate, which should always be secured to car’s seatbelt system. However, if your pet requires more freedom, a specially designed harness for the car can be combined with a dog seatbelt to allow your pooch enough lead to sit, lie down, and still be protected in the event of a crash. Lastly, a harness that ties into a zipline that travels the length of the backseat will allow him to walk back and forth. 

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

It should go without saying that a dog should never be left unattended in a car, regardless of the weather or the amount of time you’re gone. The most obvious danger is heat, especially when considering that on an 85 degree day, car temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees within 10 minutes with the windows open. However, pets left alone can also attract pet thieves. Our suggestion is to prevent these from ever occurring by simply bringing your pet along with you, wherever you go.


Special Offer for WOOFipedia Readers:

Kurgo is dedicated to helping people get out and enjoy the world with their dogs. As the leading pet travel and outdoor products company, Kurgo makes everything from car accessories, like crash-tested dog harnesses and car-seat covers, to outdoor gear, like dog backpacks and booties. Get 20% off Kurgo dog travel safety gear from now until August 15, 2014. Just use coupon code: AKCSAFE at checkout.