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26 November 2021

Whether it’s heading to the cottage for the weekend or taking a short trip to the vet, your dog will probably have to go for a car ride at some point. Some dogs love car rides, while others get quite nervous about them. At Globalvet, we want to minimize the stress of car rides for you and your four-legged friend. Here are some tips to make car rides with your dog as safe and pleasant as possible.

Road safety

There are a number of regulations that cover the transportation of animals. We did some research to help you make sense of them all. The Highway Safety Code states that no person may drive a vehicle if an animal is so placed as to obstruct the driver’s view or to interfere with the proper handling of the vehicle. Obviously, you need to see where you’re going!

Your dog could hurt you or themselves if they’re not properly secured in the back of the vehicle. According to SAAQ, if your car hits an obstacle at 50 km/h, the impact multiplies the weight of any person, animal, or object in the vehicle by 20. That means your 50-pound dog could become a moving load of 1,000 pounds! We don’t even like to think about it—that’s why it’s important to use the right tools to keep you and your fur baby safe. Car accessories go through rigorous testing to make sure they are safe to use.

We recommend you put your dog in a car harness and buckle them in with a seat belt or attach them to a restraint hook in the back if you have an SUV. Some cats and dogs prefer to be put in their pet carrier on the floor of the car, on the passenger seat or the back seat. Your dog may feel calmer in the enclosed, secure space the carrier provides. You can easily buckle the carrier into the back seat or secure it in the trunk with a restraint hook.

We know a lot of dogs love to stick their head out the window, but this is dangerous! Your precious pup could get injured by debris or insects and they could also develop an ear infection or conjunctivitis.

Everyone knows how hot the inside of a car can get, especially in the summer! That’s why you should never leave your dog alone in the car, even if it’s only for a few minutes and you leave the windows cracked. If you see a dog left alone in a vehicle, call 911. The police can help the dog and hand out fines if necessary.

Dogs can get car sick too!

Does riding in the back of a car give you an upset stomach? The same thing can happen to your dog. Here are some signs your furry friend may be experiencing motion sickness: motionless, stiff posture, yawning, panting (breathing with their mouth open), shaking, vocalizing (whimpering, barking, meowing), agitation, hyper salivating, gagging, vomiting, or eliminating (defecation, urination). These symptoms are no fun for your pet and could be a sign of motion sickness, stress, or a combination of both. It can be difficult to tell what is causing the discomfort. If every car ride is stressful and unpleasant, your dog will start to associate these feelings with the car and be even more anxious next time you need to take them somewhere.  But there are steps you can take to limit these negative experiences. Your Globalvet veterinarian can also give you some useful tips! You can also consult our page on treating anxiety to better understand your pet’s behaviour.

Motion sickness occurs when your ears perceive movement but your eyes see the still interior of the vehicle. The brain matures over time and gets used to these conflicting signals, which is why motion sickness is more common in young animals.

So, how do you prevent or reduce the discomfort of travelling by car? The best thing to do is get your dog used to the car from an early age. Here’s an easy way to do it.

  1. Get your dog used to their carrier or harness by letting them sniff it then giving them treats, toys, and pets. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends in their harness or carrier.
  2. Do the same thing with your car, starting by introducing your dog to the car while it isn’t running.
  3. Once you’ve done this, take a few short trips and work your way up to longer car rides. Drive carefully and avoid making quick stops or sharp turns. If you can, avoid trips during rush hour.

Some tips for travelling with your dog in the car:

  • Drive carefully and avoid making quick stops or sharp turns. If you can, avoid trips during rush hour.
  • Limit visual stimuli to help reduce motion sickness. You can do this by covering your dogs’ eyes with a mask (e.g., Thundercap®) or by placing a light blanket over their carrier.
  • Feed your dog one to two hours before the trip so they’re not too hungry and not too full.
  • Make regular stops to let your dog stretch, drink some water, and relieve themselves.
  • Make sure your pup is comfortable—bring some blankets or a pillow they like to sleep on.
  • Keep the temperature inside the car cool and comfortable. Open a window a little to ensure good air circulation.
  • If necessary, your vet can prescribe medication or a natural solution to help relieve nausea and vomiting if your dog’s motion sickness persists. A little boost can help your dog acclimate better and get more comfortable with car rides over time.

So there you have it—buckle up, and you’re ready to hit the road!


Article 442: No person may drive a vehicle if a passenger, an animal or an object is so placed as to obstruct the driver’s view or to interfere with the proper handling of the vehicle.

Article 471: No person may drive or allow to be driven a road vehicle carrying a load that is not solidly secured or adequately covered so as to prevent any part of the load from moving or detaching itself from the vehicle.


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