Best Way to Travel with a Dog in a Car

Maybe you want to take a road trip, or a quick day trip to the beach with your family, friends and precious pooch.

Or you have a new pup and you’re not sure of the best way to travel with a dog in a car or perhaps the last car ride your pup had was an absolute disaster.

No matter the situation, we are here to help you learn about general car safety, motion sickness, car anxiety, safe car ride entertainment, and wise travel for doggies with health or physical conditions.

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car travel with dogs

Car Safety 101 for Dogs

We understand you want your pup to enjoy life with you in a fun and safe way. We are also so glad that you understand that there’s a certain amount of risk of the unknown whenever anyone gets into a car to drive or ride.

We protect ourselves by wearing seat belts, driving when well rested and paying attention to what’s going on around us on the road. We protect ourselves, our children, and now it’s time to protect our precious furry companions.

If you have a wiggly dog, one of the best things that you can do for them is to purchase a dog car seat or a doggy seat belt.

The two main benefits of these items are that you don’t have to worry about your pooch hopping from the front to the back of the car.

You also don’t have to worry about them getting into things that they’re not supposed to during the ride, and most importantly if you ever ended up in a car accident your dog would be protected from flying forward in the car.

These are some amazing safety benefits from simply putting your pup in a dog car seat or using a dog seat belt.

Usually, the car seats work best for small puppies, and the safety belts work best for medium to large dogs. Because we care so much about you and your dog’s safety, below is a list of some top rated car seats and seat belts that can keep your pup restrained in the car!

Best Dog Car Seats, Padded Seat Covers, and Seat Belts

  • Petbobi Pet Reinforce Car Booster Seat for Dogs: This one is highly rated because it’s a car seat that has a safety belt. This carrier is also lightly padded for comfortable and long rides. To top it all off this booster seat even has a built-in zipper pouch, is portable, and reduces the amount of dog hair in the rest of the car.
  • Mighty Paw Vehicle Safety Harness: This safety belt is available for small, medium, and large dogs. The harness is great because it keeps your pup in place if you take a sharp turn. It also keeps them in place if they’re a busybody. Another great thing about this harness is the fact that the straps are comfortable, adjustable, and usable as a dog walking harness once you’ve arrived at your destination! This is an affordable 2 in 1 product
  • Pet Gear Lookout Booster Car Seat: This car seat is super comfy because it has a pillow inside of it. This is great for small, medium, and large dogs (up to about 50 lbs) that might even have arthritis. This seat comes with two safety harness tethers, so if you already have a harness and just needed a super comfortable and safe space for your pup to sit for a few hours, this is the product for you.
  • Dog Back Seat Cover for Cars & SUVs: This is a comfy car padded cover that is great for any size dog and it fits even inside of SUVs. This one is slip-resistant and waterproof. It also comes with storage pockets. This great if all you need is a comfortable seating arrangement for your dog. You can safely use your dog’s harnesses and harness tether with this awesome and affordable product.

The Best Way to Travel with a Dog in a Car

Besides car seats and safety harnesses, we have a few more basic traveling tips to help you out.

Bathroom Breaks

A huge thing for your pup will be going to the bathroom. We highly recommend you map out several dog parks and rest stops that are on the general route that you’ll be driving.

Your pup will need to go to the bathroom once or twice every 3 hours if he or she is a puppy, and once or twice every 4 to 6 hours if your dog is 3 years old and over.

Rest Stops

We also recommend you take your dog for a wander even if they don’t need to go to the bathroom. Your dog will need to stretch their legs and drink some water.

When it comes to drinking water, you should bring water in a bottle and a water bowl just in case there’s no water fountain in the parks.

Also, during car trips in general, never smoke inside of the car and never leave your dog alone in the car, especially with the windows up.

How to Deal With Dog Motion Sickness and Anxiety

Some dogs are terrified of cars because they are not used to being in the car. To prevent or reduce their anxiety, start by slowly introducing your pup to sitting in the car.

Then take your pooch on short car rides to a different park, to a friend’s house, or to pick up food through a drive through several times before taking your dog on longer trips.

Another way to reduce anxiety is to bring your dog’s favorite blanket and toy from home in the car.

Toys and blankets are items of comfort and familiarity for your pup. They will make them feel like they have a piece of home with them wherever they go.

Also, try to play calming music at medium-low volume instead of super loud music that could cause your puppy anxiety.

When it comes to motion sickness, it’s best to feed your dog a small amount of food 2 to 3 hours prior to traveling in the car, so that they will have sufficient time to digest and pass the food.

We also advise you not to feed your precious pup any food during the car ride if possible, because it could cause vomiting.

When it comes to severe cases of motion sickness and car anxiety, we recommend you see your veterinarian before going on a trip to pick up some medication for anxiety or motion sickness.

Or you can try a more natural dog sedative to keep your pup calm. Always have the vet approve of any medication and the proper dosage before giving it to your dog.

Check out this video for more advice on car sickness in dogs.

Entertaining a Dog During a Car Ride

When it comes to trips that are longer than 30 minutes, you may find that your pooch needs to be entertained. It is always a good idea to bring your pup’s favorite chew bone and chew toy because it will allow your pup to be entertained and stimulated simultaneously.

We also recommend you bring a ball to play fetch at dog parks and that you leave the window cracked a little more than halfway up if it’s a warm day.

Some dogs enjoy sticking their noses and faces out the window. Just make sure that the window is not low enough for your dog to try and drop out of the car.

Traveling With Dogs Who Have Health Conditions

We completely understand you want to share all the exciting parts of your life with your pup, but if your dog has a health condition it is crucial that you are prepared to meet all their needs during the entire trip.

Below is a list of advice regarding dogs with health concerns.

A Common To Do List for Dogs With Health Concerns:

  1. Make sure that the seat, or dog crate, is super comfortable for dogs with any physical or mobility issues.
  2. Make sure that you have enough medicine for your dog and pack it in a daily pill case that has the days of the week and “AM” and “PM” written on it.
  3. If your pup has any health concerns, make a regular appointment with your vet a few weeks before the trip.
  4. Remember to plan the bathroom and rest stops ahead of your trip. Dogs on medication along with elderly pups might have difficulty holding their eliminations compared to younger and healthier dogs.
  5. Call your vet and ask about medication for anxiety and motion sickness if needed.
  6. Never leave your dog alone in the car, especially with the windows all the way up.
  7. Make sure that your pup stays hydrated.

Check out this infographic from for some more must-know tips.

20 Must Know Tips For Traveling With Dogs

Finally, we wish you and your dog the best regarding all future car rides.

We highly recommend you adhere to the safety basics, anxiety-soothing and health care tips we have shared with you.

Check out more about traveling cross-country with your dog.