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Protecting Your Precious Furry Cargo On The Go

Car safety tips for your pet

By The GOOD HANDS® Advice Team

Many pet owners consider their furry friends as part of the family, deserving of all the love and care a family member should expect. However, some pet parents might not be fully aware of how to protect their animal when in the car.

While there’s lots of helpful advice for traveling by plane with animals[1], we’re going to focus on pet travel by vehicle.

Pets should not be roaming freely in the car. They can distract the driver and be injured in an accident. After a collision, an injured or scared animal can be a risk to first responders or cause another collision if they run into traffic.

Precious Furry Cargo: Car Safety Tips For Your Pet from The GOOD HANDS® Advice Team at Allstate

In a 2023 survey[2], nearly half (47%) of Canadian respondents claimed to leave their pets unrestrained in their car. Further, 38% of respondents said they plan on taking their pets for a minimum one-hour road trip this summer and a quarter (25%) said they travel with their pet in a moving vehicle at least once per week.

Carriers, harnesses and pet seat belts are safety measures to help ensure the well-being and protection of all passengers, not just our four-legged friends.

These products are designed to minimize the risk of injury or harm to your pet in the event of an accident, sudden stop, sharp turn or other emergency manoeuvres. They can also help protect the people inside the vehicle, too. In a crash, an unrestrained pet can be thrown by impact forces, potentially hurting themselves, the driver or other passengers.

Canadian pet parents should evaluate the way they travel with their pets and prioritize everyone’s safety. Make sure to do research on pet safety products to evaluate not only quality and reliability, but to help pick the right size for your pet.

Car safety tips for your furry friend:

  • Secure your pet in a proper carrier or harness. Keep your pet in a well-ventilated carrier to keep the animal and passengers safe. For larger dogs or pets that cannot fit in carriers, consider using specially designed pet seat belts or dog harnesses.
  • Secure the carrier or harness properly. Ensure that the carrier is securely fastened or your pet’s harness is connected to the vehicle’s seat belt system. This safety measure can also help prevent your pet from moving or falling during sudden stops.
  • Gradually acclimate your pet to car travel. If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, in a carrier or harness, start with short trips and gradually increase the duration to help them get used to the experience. Provide encouragement by offering treats and praise to associate car travel with positive experiences.
  • Make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel and up to date on necessary vaccines. Bring along any documentation or paperwork for proof of vaccination as, depending on where you travel, you may need it. Of course, bring your pet’s medication with you.
  • Never leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked open. Temperatures, hot or cold, can put your pet’s health in serious danger. Always take your pet with you when you leave your vehicle.
  • Protect your pet from direct sunlight. While driving, use sunshades to help shield your pet from heat and direct sunlight.
  • On long trips, make sure your pet has food and plenty of fresh water. Stop regularly so your pet can rest and walk around, and make sure they have a proper identification tag in case they get lost.
  • Do not let your pet stick their head out the window. While it may seem fun for them, your pet is at risk of injury from debris, insects or accidents. Keep the windows closed or use specially designed window mesh guards.

How to carry a cat safely in a car

Here are some additional tips for carrying our feline friends:

  • Choose the right carrier. Opt for a carrier that is sturdy, well-ventilated and well-suited for cats, providing enough space for them to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. The carrier should be securely fastened to prevent it from sliding or tipping over during sudden stops. Keep your cat inside the carrier until you are in a safe and controlled environment to prevent them from running away.
  • Familiarize your cat with the carrier. Cats can be anxious or stressed in unfamiliar environments. Gradually introduce your cat to the carrier by placing it in your home and allowing your cat to explore it at their own pace. Make it more of a comfortable space by adding familiar bedding, clothing with your scent or treats inside.
  • Keep the car ride calm and quiet. Cats are sensitive to noise and sudden movements. Maintain a calm and relaxed atmosphere to help your cat feel more comfortable during the journey.
  • Cover the carrier. Some cats may feel more secure with a cover over their carrier. This can help reduce visual stimuli and create a cozy den-like environment. Use a lightweight cover that allows for ventilation and check on your cat periodically during the journey.

How to carry a small dog safely in a car

Here are some additional tips for carrying a small dog or puppy safely in a car:

  • Choose an appropriate carrier or harness. When choosing a carrier for small dogs or puppies, make sure it is ventilated, durable, safe and comfortable. Like with cats, ensure there is enough room for your pet to move around. Secure the carrier to prevent it from tipping over or moving during sudden stops or turns. If using a harness, ensure it is specifically made for small dogs, fits them well, and can connect to the vehicle’s seat belt system.
  • Plan for frequent potty breaks. The smaller the dog, the smaller the bladder! Your dog may need to relieve themselves more frequently, especially if it’s not yet trained. Plan for regular stops to give your dog a chance to go, stretch their legs and get some exercise.

How to carry a large dog in a car

Here are some additional tips for carrying a large dog safely in a car:

  • Use a sturdy and spacious crate or harness. For large dogs, it’s essential to use a sturdy crate or a harness specifically designed for their size. The crate should provide enough room for your dog to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. It’s crucial to securely fasten the crate in the car to prevent the dog from sliding or being tossed around during sudden stops or turns. If using a harness, it should connect to the vehicle’s seat belt system.
  • Provide proper ventilation and temperature control. Some larger dogs may generate more body heat, so ventilation within the crate is important. Monitor the temperature inside the car and use sunshades to reduce the effects of direct sunlight and excessive heat. If necessary, use fans or provide cooling mats to keep your dog comfortable.
  • Plan for breaks and exercise. Large dogs require regular exercise, so plan for frequent stops during your journey to give your dog a chance to stretch their legs, sniff the local fire hydrant and get some physical activity.
  • Control for car entry and exit. To ensure their safety while getting in and out of the vehicle, consider using a ramp that allows you to control their movements and prevents them from jumping in and out prematurely.
  • Protect your car’s interior. Use seat covers or blankets to protect your car’s interior from dirt, hair and potential damage caused by nails.

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Remember, each pet is unique, and their comfort levels may vary. Watch their behaviour and adjust your approach to make the journey as stress-free and comfortable as possible.

As pet parents, we want the best for the furry members of our family. By investing time in researching and selecting the right pet safety products for car rides, you can help ensure the well-being of your companion while traveling. For more details on how to better protect your pets, check out our Pets Plus Us pet insurance products or contact an agent.

Allstate Partnership – Pets Plus Us (Pet Insurance)

Allstate knows how much your pet means to you. That’s why we’re pleased to offer quality pet insurance through our partnership with Pets Plus Us®, including a full range of coverage options designed to fit any budget. To learn more, contact your local agent.


1. For additional information about travelling with animals in Canada, check out the Government of Canada website. Also check the specific traffic laws and regulations for your destination.

2. About the survey: Leger survey commissioned by Allstate May 12-15, 2023 among Canadians who own a cat or a dog to understand their car travel frequency with their pet, their restraining habits for their animal in a moving vehicle and their summer road trip plans with their pet. Read more

Disclaimer: This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice. Allstate does not control or guarantee the accuracy of any content on any third-party site. Allstate is not responsible for the privacy practices of any third-party site.

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is a leading home and auto insurer focused on providing its customers prevention and protection products and services for every stage of life. Serving Canadians since 1953, Allstate strives to reassure both customers and employees with its “You’re in Good Hands®” promise and is proud to have been named a Best Employer in Canada for nine consecutive years. Allstate is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates through partnerships with charitable organizations, employee giving and volunteerism. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit For safety tips and advice, visit

SOURCE: Allstate Insurance Company of Canada