Harness the open road: pet car safety basics

Safety in the golden age of pet travel.

Yes, pets are really going places these days. Exotic attractions, quality hotels, and fine restaurants allow pet guests to accompany you; this is an unbelievable time for animals with a real itch to travel. Road trips are so much fun, so fulfilling, and fuel so many memories, but… a little forethought and planning can make a huge difference for everyone going. 

Having auto insurance that helps you protect yourself and your pet does come to mind. Obviously, you’re a great driver, but strange stuff can happen out there. Toggle® Auto has a Pet PassengerTM add-on that can cover your co-pilot and pays up to $1,000 for veterinary care and other pet-related expenses should you both get involved in an accident. 

Dog Outside - Toggle Auto Pet Passenger Insurance Photo by Madhu Rao on Unsplash

Okay, pet chauffeurs. Let’s roll out.

First and foremost, the main goal is to keep those tails wagging and those kitties purring all the way across the country. Also included are turtles, snakes, ferrets, and all other pets doing what they do to express joy and happiness when they’re on the road.

It all starts with one simple rule. A pet should never be in the front seat of a moving vehicle. Yes, you see it in movies, but the reality is the pet could be injured in a small fender bender, a sudden stop, or should an airbag go off. Probably a more famous, yet equally dangerous idea is letting a pet hang their head out the window, lapping up fresh air, sniffing new scents, embracing a Jack Kerouac (for pets) sense of adventure. It’s actually a pretty risky thing as bugs, small rocks, and flying road debris come in hot and fast and can really hurt your pet. Not to mention the notion of the pet leaving the vehicle through the passenger window to pursue something outside the car, like a squirrel or whatever. 

Dog Looking Out Car Window - Toggle Auto Pet Passenger InsurancePhoto by Irina Efremova

Buckle up. And that means everybody. 

When people and pets suddenly and unexpectedly move around inside of a vehicle, injuries can happen. Since cars don’t come with dog seat belts, dog tethers, or any sort of safety restraints, you need to take care of this before the trip. Pet passengers should be locked down securely and safely with a pet harness, inside a crate, or in a pet car seat. Check out our Toggle Perks page and filter to “Pets” for the hookup on all things pet carriers, pet crates, and pet travel accessories. 

If you already have pet seat belts installed, well dang, you’re way ahead of the game. You sound like a candidate for the Adulting Elite, a growing group of enthusiasts who are mastering the game of being a grown-up.

Dog Sitting in Car - Toggle Auto Pet Passenger InsurancePhoto by Ryan Tuttle

Rest stops? Nah. Time for the zoomies.

It’s prudent to stop every couple of hours and let your pet drink some water, run around, and do their business. We suggest plotting out your pet friendly rest stops ahead of time. Don’t forget to keep your leash handy, accessible and in the front seat. It’s also a smart idea to get your pet microchipped and tagged in case the two of you get separated. Here is more information on pet microchipping from our friends at Pets Best. 

If you’re doing an overnighter, you’ll also want to brush up on your hotel’s pet policy ahead of time. Here are some of the most pet friendly hotels – because even hotels that say they’re pet friendly may have a weight limit or restrict the number of pet pals you can have in your room.

Dog Using the Bathroom - Toggle Auto InsurancePhoto by freestocks on Unsplash

A travel checklist from fellow pet parents. 

We asked for top pet travel suggestions and compiled this list for you:

__ Cargo-area mat or liner

__ Mat or travel bed

__ Collar ID tag

__ Pre-packed food

__ Biscuits, treats, and toys

__ Travel water bowl

__ Towels

__ Extra leash & collar

__ Medical records, medications

__ Litter and box

__ Plastic bags and cleaning supplies

__ Pet travel crate (optional, but smart) 

__ Pet car seat (optional, but smart) 

__ Picture of your pet (in case you don’t have a few thousand of them on your phone already)

Dog in Crate - Toggle Auto Pet Passenger InsurancePhoto by K Neville

Comfort food for pets. 

Not everyone thinks of this, but bringing along the food and treats your pet is accustomed to will help them feel comfort away from home. And it should reduce the chances of a backseat accident; animals typically can’t tell you when they need to go. Bring enough food for the entire trip and bring water. Also bring a collapsible water bowl to let you stop wherever it suits the two of you. Additionally, if you find that your pet gets into something they shouldn’t have, get trusted vet advice when you’re away from home at your fingertips through our collaboration with FirstVet. Toggle customers get their first consultation at no cost.

Dog Getting Treat - Toggle Auto InsurancePhoto by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Bring a human. 

If your pet could talk, they’d recommend bringing an extra human. Extra persons can share the driving, tell jokes, share stories, enhance the eating possibilities beyond a drive-thru, keep an eye on pets, and help out at rest areas. Most pets generally agree: two humans working together makes a great trip into an epic experience.

Woman Kissing Dog - Toggle Auto InsurancePhoto by Studio Firma

Cars heat up soooo much faster than you think. 

Leaving a pet, any pet, inside a closed, hot vehicle is super dangerous, even for a short time. Cracking the windows a little doesn’t help that much, mostly because cars can heat up quickly even on a balmy, pleasant day. Pets are not designed to handle extreme temperatures. Their body’s cooling systems are very different from humans’, so they don’t sweat, and many pets are covered in fur. Did you know that the temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20°F in as little as ten minutes even when outside temperatures are in the 70s? (source: National Weather Service) Better idea to take them with you.

Dog Sitting - Toggle Auto InsurancePhoto by Tuyana Yu

You’ve arrived. 

Well, that was an amazing trip. After a quick stretch, it’s time to acclimate your pet to their new digs. They need to know where their food, water bowl, and sleeping area are located and which door they may exit. Also, while you’re both enjoying your home away from home, make sure everything back at your real home is insured by Toggle Renters Insurance. Here’s your chance if you don’t already have it. Finally, it’s time to leash up and find a nice park. Following that, a nice, long walk, full of exotic new smells and scents. Enjoy your vacay, worry-free. Both of you!

If you enjoyed this journey, you might check our other blog for more inspiration and ideas: the joys of pet parenting.

Dog and Girl Sitting in Back of Car - Toggle Auto InsurancePhoto by Halie West on Unsplash


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