Dog in car: safety, equipment, and regulations


Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding experience, but it's essential to prioritize safety and comply with regional regulations. This guide covers everything you need to know about safely traveling with your dog in a car, including the necessary equipment and regulations in both Europe and the USA.

Safety equipment for traveling with dogs by car

Ensuring your dog’s safety during car travel is crucial for both the pet and the driver. Unrestrained dogs can cause distractions and are vulnerable to injury during sudden stops or accidents. Proper safety measures not only protect your pet but also help maintain focus on the road.

1. Dog seat belt

Dog seatbelt is designed to keep your dog securely fastened and reduce movement within the car. Just like dog harnesses, dog seat belt connects to the car's seat belt system. It is easy to use and can be adjusted to fit most dogs. On the other hand they are not as secure as a dog cage in car case of an accident. Some dogs may not adapt well to the restraint.

2. Dog cage in car

Crates and carriers for dogs are appropriate for dogs of all sizes. Ensure the cage is well-ventilated and securely placed in the car. They provides the highest level of protection in case of an accident. Prevents distractions by confining the dog to a specific area. On the other hand crates and carriers for dogs in car requires adequate space in the car and may not be suitable for dogs who dislike confinement.

3. Dog car seats

Elevated dog car seats provide a secure area for smaller dogs, allowing them to look out the window while being safely restrained. It is good option for small to medium-sized dogs. Dog car seats keeps the dog secure and allows them to enjoy the view. Unfortunately, they are not as secure as dog cage in car in the event of a serious collision.

4. Dog barrier for car

Barriers keep pets confined to the back seat or cargo area, preventing them from distracting the driver. A dog car barrier is also good for larger dogs who need more room to move. Unfortunately any dog barrier for car does not restrain the dog in case of an accident, offering less protection compared to other options.

There are several types of car barriers designed specifically to keep dogs safe and confined within different areas of a vehicle. Each type is suited for various needs and car sizes. Here are the common types:

  • Metal car barriers: These sturdy and adjustable barriers are designed to fit between the trunk area and the back of the vehicle. They are ideal for larger cars like SUVs and provide good visibility and airflow, making them suitable for larger breeds that need more space.

  • Net car barriers: Constructed from stretchable netting, these barriers are the easiest to install and remove. These lighter barriers can be used between the front seats or behind the back seats. They provide a flexible barrier that prevents dogs from climbing into the front seats, offering a good balance of visibility and containment.


Regulations for traveling with dogs

Rules for travelling with dogs in Europe

The EU requires that dogs have a pet passport, which includes details of vaccinations and health status. Some countries have additional requirements, such as specific vaccinations or health certificates. Check local regulations before traveling.

While not uniform across all countries, many European nations require dogs to be restrained in a car. For example, Germany mandates the use of seat belts, crates, or barriers.

Rules for traveling with dogs in the USA

The USA does not have a federal law regarding pets in cars, but many states have specific regulations. For instance, in New Jersey, drivers can be fined for having an unrestrained pet in the car. When traveling across state lines, ensure you comply with the regulations of each state regarding pet restraints and health certifications.

Some states require a health certificate from a veterinarian, particularly for longer trips or when crossing state lines.

“Leaving a dog in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.”

An important consideration for pet owners is whether "is it illegal to leave your dog in the car?". In many states, it is illegal to leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, especially in extreme temperatures. This brings up the common question, "is it okay to leave a dog in a hot car?". The answer is no; leaving a dog in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.

Addressing common dog travel issues

Traveling with your dog can present a few challenges, including motion sickness and anxiety. Addressing these issues effectively will ensure a smoother, more enjoyable journey for both you and your furry friend.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness is a common problem for dogs, particularly those who are not accustomed to car travel. Symptoms include drooling, excessive panting, whining, and even vomiting. Here are some strategies to alleviate motion sickness in dogs:

  • Consult your veterinarian: Your vet can prescribe medications such as anti-nausea drugs (e.g., Cerenia) or sedatives for more severe cases. These medications can significantly reduce the symptoms of motion sickness.

  • Gradual acclimation: Start with short car rides and gradually increase the length of the trips. This helps your dog get used to the motion of the car.

  • Fasting before travel: Avoid feeding your dog a large meal right before travel. A light meal a few hours before the trip can reduce the risk of nausea.

  • Ventilation: Ensure good airflow in the car by cracking a window or using air conditioning. Fresh air can help reduce motion sickness symptoms.

  • Frequent breaks: On longer trips, take regular breaks to let your dog out for fresh air, a short walk, and a bathroom break.

  • View limitation: Limiting your dog’s view outside the car can help reduce motion sickness. Covering the crate or using a car seat that restricts their view may be beneficial.

Dog anxiety

Anxiety can make car travel stressful for your dog. Symptoms of anxiety include shaking, panting, whining, drooling, and restlessness. Here are some ways to help your dog stay calm during car trips:

  • Anxiety wraps: Anxiety wraps, such as the Thundershirt, apply gentle pressure to your dog’s body, which can have a calming effect.

  • Calming supplements: Natural supplements like Zylkene or calming treats containing ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, or CBD oil can help ease anxiety.

  • Positive reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and toys to create positive associations with the car. Reward your dog for calm behavior during the trip.

  • Desensitization: Gradually get your dog used to the car by sitting in it without driving, then taking short trips around the block, and slowly increasing the duration.

  • Exercise: Give your dog plenty of exercise before the trip to help burn off excess energy and make them more likely to rest during the drive.

For extreme cases of anxiety, consult your vet about prescription medications that can help manage your dog’s anxiety.


Many pet owners ask "why does my dog pant in the car?". Panting can be a sign of stress or overheating. Ensuring good ventilation and taking breaks can help. Additionally, dog panting in car can sometimes be related to excitement or motion sickness.


another common question is "why does my dog drool in the car?". Drooling is often a symptom of motion sickness or anxiety. Using the strategies mentioned above for motion sickness can help reduce drooling.


Similarly, owners often ask, "why does my dog whine in the car?". Whining can indicate discomfort, stress, or a need for a bathroom break. Making sure your dog is comfortable and secure, and taking frequent breaks, can alleviate whining.


1. My dog throws up in the car, what should I do?

Gradually acclimate your dog to car travel, limit food before trips, and maintain good ventilation in the vehicle.

2. Which is safer for my dog while traveling in a car: a seat belt or a crate?

A crate is generally safer as it offers more protection during an accident, especially if secured properly.

3. Is it safe to have my dog in the front seat of the car?

It is not recommended to have a dog in the front seat due to the risk of airbag injury and increased distraction for the driver.

4. Are crates safe for dogs in the event of a car accident?

Yes, crates can provide a high level of safety for dogs during accidents if they are well-ventilated and securely anchored.

5. What is the best dog barrier for car?

The best car barrier depends on your vehicle type, the size of your dog, and your specific travel needs. Metal barriers offer the most durability and are great for larger dogs and vehicles. Mesh or net barriers are more flexible and easier to install, ideal for smaller dogs and varying car sizes.

6. Why do dogs pant in the car?

Dogs pant in the car due to stress or anxiety, overheating, excitement, or motion sickness. Ensuring good ventilation, taking breaks, and gradually acclimating your dog to car travel can help reduce panting. If it persists, consult your veterinarian.


Traveling with your dog can be a joyous and memorable experience if you take the necessary precautions and plan ahead. By understanding the safety measures, equipment needs, and regulations in both Europe and the USA, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companion.

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