The safest way for any dog to travel is in a secure crate or specially designed seat belt/harness. A crate or safety harness will protect your dog from injuries on impact and keep him secure in the aftermath. If you are injured in an accident, emergency personnel won’t have to worry about getting past your dog to help you if he’s crated or secured by a seat belt. Another important factor to consider is that a crate or safety harness will actually prevent accidents by keeping your dog from moving around in the vehicle and interfering with the driver.
The Wind in His Fur
We’ve all seen dogs hanging their heads out car windows or riding in the back of a pickup truck. This is not a good idea. Dust and other airborne debris travelling at the speed of a moving vehicle can cause a lot of damage to sensitive eyes and ears. Worse, dogs sometimes jump or are thrown from a window or truck bed, either deliberately if they see something they want to investigate, or accidentally if you have to swerve or make a sudden stop. If they are very lucky and land safely, they could potentially be struck by another vehicle or run away and become lost.
A good alternative to crates and harnesses is a vehicle barrier, either mesh or tubular metal, which physically separates your dog from the driving compartment. Like a harness or crate, a barrier prevents your dog from moving around the vehicle, keeping you focused on driving and not what your pet is doing. In case of an accident, a barrier can also prevent your dog from becoming a projectile and being thrown from the vehicle.
Vehicle barriers are especially important if your car has front air bags. Dogs, like small children, should never be allowed in the front seat of vehicles with front airbags, as they can be killed or injured if the bag deploys.
Consider the Temperature
Before you decide to take your dog along for a car ride, be sure that he can go with you when you leave the car. In only a few minutes, the temperature in a closed vehicle can raise high enough to kill your dog or cause permanent brain damage, even with the windows partially open.