RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Traveling with Pets


Canine Seat Belt System
Farnam Pet Products
Love your dog? Buckle him up!

Buckle Up: "Ruff" Road Ahead!

by Tammy Senter, Farnam Pet Products


Pet lovers understand that once you bring animals into your life, they quickly become members of the family. In fact, a study recently released by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association showed that 74 percent of dog owners think of their pet as a child or family member. With such a high percentage, it should come as no surprise that many of these families want to take their adored pet with them whenever they travel.

However, traveling in a vehicle with a dog or cat can pose a serious danger to the pet. In an accident, a pet - like a person - can exert a force of 20 times its body weight if it is not properly restrained. Should another passenger collide with a pet, serious, life-threatening injuries can result to both. Even worse, a dog or cat can be thrown from a vehicle in a collision. A proper restraint can significantly lessen the likelihood of both incidents.

To ensure your safety and the safety of your pet, it is highly recommended that pet parents consider the use of a pet restraint or crate while traveling. Not only will restraints keep an animal secure within the car, but they also will limit a pet's movement and prevent serious injury in the event of an accident.



When choosing the appropriate pet restraint, pet parents have several options. The right selection depends on the breed and size of your animal as well as the type of vehicle in which you will be traveling. Following are several restraint options for pet owners to consider when traveling with their pet in a vehicle:

Canine Seat Belt System
Farnam Pet Products
Canine seat belt systems allow dogs to sit or lie down.


For large or small dogs, one of the safest ways to secure them inside a car is with a canine seat belt system. This type of harness attaches to the existing seat belt in all vehicle models, as well as to cargo hooks inside SUVs, trucks and wagons. With a seat belt system, pet parents can control their pet's range of motion, allowing them to sit or lie while at the same time helping them feel safe and secure.

Made of nylon, the harness straps on canine seat belts are often padded and adjustable and are also designed to distribute pressure evenly throughout areas of your pet's chest. Moreover, most dog leashes will attach to the seat belt system for use during stops on your trip. Costs for a canine seat belt system vary depending on the pet's size and weight. They can accommodate pets weighing anywhere from 15 pounds to more than 100 pounds and vary in price from approximately $35 to $50. To ensure proper fit and size, pet owners should consult an associate at their local pet retail outlet.


Pet car seats, similar to those used for children, are a viable option for use with smaller dogs. Pets can be restrained inside specially made seats that are harnessed to the head rest of a car seat. In many cases, the straps are adjustable, allowing for enough height to enable the dog to see through the window. Like the canine seat belt system, pet car seats are most often made of padded nylon and include a harness which can keep your pet inside the seat and prevent it from being injured in an accident. Most pet car seats are framed in steel to provide additional protection. Pet car seats typically hold pets between 20 to 30 pounds and range in price from $35 to $70 depending on the style.


Pet carriers are an ideal option for traveling with cats and small dogs because they act not only as a form of protection, but also can provide a reassuring space for the pet within the vehicle. Carriers are attached to the seat belt and headrests of most vehicles, and are entirely enclosed, apart from mesh windows that allow for ventilation and for the animal to look around. The interior of the carrier is typically cushioned to shield from sudden stops and collisions. Pet carriers vary in cost depending on style and can range any where from $40 to $100.

Canine travel crate
Farnam Pet Products
A pet crate is often the best way for pets to travel in comfort and safety


Should you desire the enclosed protection of a pet carrier for your larger dog, a crate may be the most suitable selection. Unlike a smaller, padded pet carrier, a crate is typically made entirely of durable wire, and is designed to accommodate the largest of dog breeds. Crates are commonly used in puppy training for house breaking and for reducing destructive behaviors like chewing. As a result, dogs become accustomed to their crates and consider them a comfortable environment. This same sense of comfort can be translated to road travel when pet owners transport their dogs in crates. Crates can be placed in the back of SUVs or station wagons but may not be suitable for the back seat of most cars.


In addition to keeping pets safe on the road, another consideration for pet parents is how to keep their pet comfortable as they are faced with new environments as they travel. It is suggested that pet parents bring familiar items from home with them in the vehicle including favorite toys and a towel or bedding still retaining the sent of home.

Another way to ensure comfort for your pet is through the use of pheromone-based products such as Comfort Zone® with D.A.P.® (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) or Comfort Zone® with Feliway® for cats. Such pheromone-based products mimic the natural comforting and familiar pheromones produced by cats and dogs that promote feelings comfort, familiarity and security. For use in the car, the product is available in a convenient spray formula and can be sprayed directly on restraints and inside carriers to help reassure your pet quickly to his new traveling environment.

Regardless of which type of restraint pet owners choose for their pet, it is important to make sure that one is in place and that all pets are secured in the vehicle. Buckling up a pet should become a habitual practice, much like it is for humans when they travel. Fortunately, there are many options to fit every animal's needs. In the end, this will ensure that all passengers are protected in the event of an accident, including the four-legged friends who are increasingly included in the family vacation and road trip.

Tammy Senter

Tammy SenterTamara (Tammy) Senter is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 11 years of international and domestic consumer marketing experience. After working with industry-leading companies such as Texas Instruments, Tyson Foods and Kodak, Tammy has been able to meld her professional life with her true passion and love of dogs through her position as marketing manager for the pet products division of Farnam Companies. An avid lover of all pets, Tammy's heart rests with a two-year-old chocolate-and-white Pomeranian named Rylie.


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