Here are six ways to help keep your dog—and you—safe while riding in the car.

By Chelsea Bancroft, Sponsored Content

Photo by Chris Xu

One of the things I love most about Austin is how dog-friendly it is. We have so many awesome dog parks, and nearly every bar and restaurant allows dogs on the patio. But to get to these places, chances are you have to drive. There are several things you can do to help keep your dog—and you—safe while riding in the car.

No Heads Out the Window

This one is going to be tough to hear, as so many dogs love riding with their heads out the car window, but this is actually really dangerous. Despite the obvious safety issues (jumping or falling out the window), dogs can be hit and injured by debris. Think about how hard a bug hits your windshield while you’re driving at even a low speed. Now imagine it hitting your pup. Ouch! Plus, air rushing into a dog’s nose and lungs in such a way can seriously injure his respiratory system.

Click It or (Worse Than a) Ticket

We don’t think twice about putting our seatbelts on, and yet, we hardly ever think about buckling up our pets. It’s very important to properly restrain pets when riding in a car, not only for their safety, but for yours as well. In an accident in which you’re driving just 30 mph, a 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds! Talk to your veterinarian or do some research online about the best choice of car harness or seatbelt for your dog’s size and weight. You can usually find a reliable pet seatbelt for anywhere between $20 and $60. 

No Riding Shotgun

As much as we love to have our pets riding shotgun next to us, it’s never a good idea—restrained or not. Besides being a distraction (My doodle head-butts my arm while I’m driving.), dogs are at risk of serious injury if the airbag deploys. Airbags are designed to keep adults safe, and when an accident occurs, they deploy at 200 mph, which is not safe for pets or kids. Dogs should also never ride in your lap while you’re driving; it’s illegal in several states.

Don’t Leave Dogs Unattended

As tempting as it may be to leave your dog in the car while you “just run in real quick,” remember the many dangers of leaving a pet unattended, especially if it’s hot outside. Another risk of leaving your dog in the car unattended is the possibility of him being stolen. Don’t risk it; leave your pet at home if you think there might be a chance you to have to leave him unattended in the car.

No Riding in Truck Beds

Here in Texas, it’s not uncommon to see dogs riding in the bed of a truck. Unfortunately, that is never a safe option for your pet. Riding in the bed of a truck leaves dogs exposed to the elements and to serious injury should you have to stop quickly or make a sharp turn, or if you get into an accident.

Always Have Proper ID Tags

Make sure your pet is always wearing his ID tags in case he escapes from the vehicle or otherwise gets lost. Having him microchipped is also important.

I hope these tips help keep you and your pup safe in the car!

Chelsea Bancroft is the strategic-partnerships and social-media manager at Roger Beasley Mazda and a blogger at


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