Driving with Dogs
Car Rides with Senior Dogs
Driving with dogs! Car rides are a fun time. Your dog gets to go somewhere, sniff the air, and spend time with you. Car rides aren’t the same as they once were though. Your furry best friend is getting older, and she doesn’t ride in the car as well as she once did. Not only does she now have a hard time getting into the car, but she doesn’t seem to enjoy the car rides as much. Consider the following four tips as on how to ensure your senior dog has a good time riding in the car.
1. Your Senior Dog’s Size and Demeanor
The first step to ensuring a smooth car ride for your senior dog is to consider your dog. Consider your dog? I am talking about the basics. Is your dog a big dog or a small dog? Does your dog usually like to ride in the car? Is your dog injured? Is she in pain? These are important questions to ask. To begin, if you dog is a large dog, she will need more space than a small dog. Not only that, but a large dog doesn’t have as much space to move around in a car a small dog does. Maybe you have a twenty pound dog. A twenty pound dog sitting in a single car seat is much different than a hundred and twenty pound dog sitting in a single car seat. You need to make sure you are giving your dog plenty of space. Many senior dogs are afflicted with arthritis and they need to stretch and move often to prevent their joints and limbs from locking up. If you are doing a long trip with a loaded car, it is important that your dog have adequate room to stretch out. It is also important that you stop often to let your dog out. It is no secret that many dogs develop incontinence issues as they age. As a result it is very important that you give your dog plenty of options to use the bathroom. These bathroom breaks are also great opportunities for your dog to stretch his limbs and walk around.
2. Does Your Dog Like To Ride In The Car?
This may seem like a stupid question, but some dogs don’t like to ride in the car. If your dog is one of those dogs, reduce the amount of time he needs to spend in the car. You don’t want to stress your senior dog more than necessary. If she didn’t like riding in the car when she was young, she most likely will like it less as she ages.
3. Provide a Comfortable Area for Her To Rest
It is also important to provide your dog with a comfortable place to sit while in a car. Having your dog sit in a normal human seat is not a comfortable thing for most dogs, especially big dogs. A good option for creating a comfortable space for you dog is to fold the seats down and have your dog sit on top of the folded seat, or to put your dog in the back, if you have a hatch back car. Putting a blanket or a bed on top of the folded seats protects your seats from dog wear and tear, and it gives your dog a comfortable area to sleep on. It is important to remember that your dog is not seat belted in. If you take a turn too hard, or slam on the breaks, your dog will move around. Drive carefully, and be particularly careful in windy canyons. Your dog will struggle to not slide across the seats with every turn. This stresses your dog out, and can tire her out as she will no doubt be straining to prevent herself from moving across the seats. The slower and more gently you drive, the better time your dog will have in the car.
4. Getting Into The Car
It is also important to get your dog into, and out of, the car safely. One way to do this is to pick your dog up and place her in the car, rather than have her jump into the car. Many senior dogs cannot jump, and they can struggle and injure themselves when trying to get into the car. Lifting all dogs is not an option though. Maybe your dog is too big to carry, or maybe your dog is injured, or maybe your dog hates to be picked up. Whatever the case, many companies make dog ramps, to help large dogs and senior dogs into cars. Such ramps help reduce the likelihood of you or your dog injuring yourselves while getting your dog in or out of the car. If you are unable to buy a ramp (many manufactured ramps break down so they can travel with you in the car) you can always make one out of plywood or other such materials.