Pets are family and you are not alone in the desire to bring them along with you in the car. Before you get on the road, make sure you have planned the trip with safety and comfort for everyone traveling with you, including your dog. Here are five important things to remember.

Secure Your Dog to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving causes accidents. Even looking away from the road for a few seconds while you change the radio station is dangerous. Unless your dog is a small dog in a carrier, keep them in the back seat to prevent them from climbing onto your lap, climbing down onto the driver’s side floorboards, or trying to play with you while you are driving.

It is tempting to allow a dog to roam around the vehicle, but this puts them in danger if you must stop abruptly or you are in an accident. Either place your pup in a secured cage or kennel, or strap them in using a pet safety harness. Securing the dog prevents them from being thrown around the car’s interior during a crash.

Food and Water

If you take a road trip, have food and water available for your dog. Weighted bowls that won’t move around too much are usually the best. Alternatively, you can purchase collapsible food and water bowls and fill them for your dog whenever you stop to take a break from driving.

Rest Stops

Your dog will appreciate it if you let them out to get exercise at rest stops. Car rides can be exciting for most dogs, but being cooped up in a vehicle for a long time can make anyone, including pets, restless. Exercise will help keep him or her calmer when you resume driving, which will be better for all involved.

Make sure to bring a leash for your dog and have them on the leash at all times while out of the car. This holds true even if your dog normally does not require leashing. In some areas, it is against the law to let a dog roam off a leash. It is also important to keep them on a leash for their safety and the safety of others. A new environment can provoke new, and sometimes unwelcome or hazardous, behaviors in a dog.

Stopping for Shopping

Dogs should never be left unattended in a vehicle, even if the weather feels cool to you. Inside a car, temperatures rise very quickly, even when windows are partially rolled down. According to the Humane Society, if the outdoor temperature is 72 degrees, the interior of a car can reach 116 within just one hour. When it is 80 degrees outside, the inside temperature can reach nearly 100 degrees in only 10 minutes. Leaving the air conditioner on for the dog seems reasonable. However, if the air conditioner shuts off for some reason, then your dog will be in a crisis very quickly. If you are traveling alone with your dog, leave the shopping for another time. If you have other people with you, leave at least one person in the vehicle to care for the dog.

In the Case of an Accident

If you are in an accident and you or your dog is injured, save all documentation of the medical or veterinary attention that you or your dog receives and be sure to have an experienced attorney, like the Austin car accident lawyers from Harron Law. This is for insurance purposes and if the accident was someone else’s fault, it helps the law office out with determining the compensation you might having coming to you.

Traveling with a dog is a lot like traveling with an energetic toddler. One big difference is that dogs are much less likely to heed your verbal warnings and large dogs are much stronger. Keep all of this in mind for a safer and more enjoyable trip, whether you are traveling a long distance or just across town.