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Pet Travel Safety: Traveling in the Car With Your Furry Friends

With more hotels and resorts opening their doors to pets, more families are including Fifi and Fido in their vacation and holiday travel plans. As we head into the holiday travel season, we thought it was an ideal time to look at ways of keeping your pets safe in the car.

First, did you know that Illinois and other states have banned motorists from driving with their pets in their laps? If you think driving down I-94 with Fluffy on your lap is a good chance for you to bond, you may want to reconsider!

Once you tell Fluffy that your lap is a no-go, where do you situate him? Consider a pet restraint (options below). While many of us are not in the habit of restraining our pets in the car, consider that an unrestrained pet can lead to distractions, which can also lead to car accidents. Not to mention, if you’re in a car accident, your unrestrained pet could sustain injuries, as well as:

  • Injure other passengers.
  • Delay first-responders assisting with an accident.
  • Escape from the car and wander into oncoming traffic.

While these are grim scenarios to think about, we definitely don’t want to experience anything like this!

So to keep everyone safe, here are some options to consider before you hit the road:

(Disclaimer: We are not endorsing or vouching for the safety aspects of any products that appear in this article. Before you buy anything, talk to your veterinarian about which one is best for your pet.)

Travel Harness Vehicle Restraint Bergen Brand Dog Car Harness

This option is good for dogs 6 lbs. – 150 lbs., but you must make sure you have your pet’s proper measurements. It can be used inside the car to limit their movement and outside the car as a training harness. Speak with your veterinarian to make sure you find the right harness for your dog.

Options on Amazon

Small Dog/Cat Seatbelt Small Dog or Cat Seat Belt

This option is good only for dogs (and cats) up to 25 lbs. This small animal seatbelt attaches to any dog or cat harness, which you then secure to your car seatbelt. This is a good option for cats, especially for longer road trips when they need to come out of the crate.

Options on Amazon

Back Seat Barrier Back Seat Barrier

Even if your pet may be secured in the back seat, there are several companies that carry back seat barriers. PetMD suggests you stay away from those that are only metal or only mesh because they’re strictly designed to keep pets from climbing into the front seat. It will not protect them in a collision. When finding the barrier that’s right for you, make sure to measure your car before you start investigating. Here is an example of a sturdy barrier – metal bars and tight mesh.

Travel Leash and Zip LinePet Car Zip Line

If you feel guilty about harnessing your furry friend to one spot in the back seat, you can attach a zip line to your car’s cargo hooks for larger dogs or to the right and left seat belt latches for smaller dogs. Then, attach the leash to the zip line. This gives a little more freedom to your pet but still provides safety.

Options on Amazon

Pet CarriersSmall Pet Carrier

For smaller dogs and cats, there are many options of pet carriers that hook into your car’s seatbelt system. If you take the time to secure your toddler’s car seat, you should do the same thing for your pet. Once the carrier is in the car, make sure you can attach your pet’s harness or collar to the interior of the carrier for extra safety.

Options on Amazon

Pet Booster Seat Pet Car Booster Seat

If you don’t like the idea of your small dog or cat being inside a carrier for a long journey, put them in a Pet Booster seat. Most of them come with a harness or a way for you to secure your pet to the seat. They come in many shapes and sizes. And some even come with heated seats!

Options on Amazon

Pick-Up Truck TravelPick Up Truck Dog Carrier

Never let your dog ride in the back of an open truck. If you must travel with your dog in the back of a pick-up truck, the only acceptable security is a crate that is tied or strapped down. Several states even require this!

Options on Amazon

Pet First Aid Kit Pet First Aid Kit

Do you have a First Aid Kit in the car for you and your family? You should have one for your pet as well! Many are available. Find the right one for your furry friend. Then, carry it with you where ever you go with your pet. Options on Amazon

Other useful information:

Here are some First Aid tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association

Not sure what else to take with you? Here is a checklist also provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association

Some information in this article was sourced from PetMD.com


Enjoy your holiday travel, but please make sure everyone is safe in your car!