When you bring your pet in the car with you, whether it be for a cross country road trip or a simple errand run, it may be tempting to hold your pet on your lap while you’re driving. Or, perhaps, you may decide to let them sit on the seat next to you or even allow them to roam the vehicle. Both of which could potentially be dangerous for you and/or your pet. If at some point you have to brake suddenly, an unrestrained pet could be thrown around the vehicle or injured by airbags if they deploy.

Here are 7 tips provided by the Humane Societyfor driving safely with a pet:

1. Dogs shouldn’t roam in the car

The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seatbelt or other secure means. Dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction to the driver, but they haven’t been reliably shown to protect dogs during a crash.

2. Cats belong in carriers

Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. It’s important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don’t bounce around and hurt your cat. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier.

3, Leave the front seat for humans

Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.

4.  Keep those heads inside!

Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.

5.  Give your pet plenty of rest stops

Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. But never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash.

6.  Bring along a human buddy

Whenever possible, share the driving and pet caretaking duties with a friend or family member. You’ll be able to get food or use the facilities at rest stops knowing that someone you trust is keeping a close eye on your pets.

7.  Don’t ever leave your pet alone in a car

A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a car by himself. One hazard is heat: When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. If you’re held up for 30 minutes, you may return to a car that’s 120 degrees inside and a pet who is suffering irreversible organ damage or death.

Other ways to make traveling with a pet more comfortable and safe on the road include:

  • Packing a suitcase for your pet. Pack it with items familiar to your pet like special toys, blankets, treats, water dishes, and food. Having familiar items near will better help your pet acclimate to a new location.
  • Make sure you feed your pet several hours before you hit the road to help prevent them from getting car sick.
  • If this is going to be the first road trip for your pet, try to prepare them for the longer journey by taking some short trips beforehand.
  • Remember to check that the sun isn’t beating down on a restrained animal while you are on the road to help keep them from overheating.

Before taking your pet along with you in the car, try and determine what the safest and most comfortable option for your pet would be. If you are not able to spend a lot of time with your pet on the road, they are probably going to be happier left at home with a trusted pet sitter checking in on them. However, should you decide it is best to bring your pet along, follow the above advice given by the Humane Society for a low-stress and safe journey.

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