Should I Let My Dog Hang Its Head out the Car Window?

We love to travel with our dogs. They enjoy being included in the family and going for car rides. You see them in the back of pickup trucks or with their heads out of the window, and they seem to have this huge grin on their face. Your dog does enjoy the wind in their face as well as all of the smells that they are exposed to.

It is actually very dangerous for our pets to have their face directly in the wind out of a car window or in the back of a pickup truck. There is a lot of dust or dirt and debris that is blowing in their eyes. We are behind a windshield for a reason. A stone can be thrown up from another vehicle and hit them in the eye, or a little bit of dust at speed could cause a scratch on the cornea that could lead to a visit to the veterinarian. There are some companies that have come out with doggles which are adorable and would provide some eye protection. Your pet may not want to keep the doggles on though so that could be a problem.

There is also the damage that can happen to the ears and the sensitive pinnae while their ears are flapping in the wind. It could lead to swelling and complications in the future. There is also the possibility of debris getting into the ear and causing irritation. As well very large wind gusts could cause damage to your dog’s eardrum.

There is the possibility of accidentally catching your pets head in the window when you go to put it up at the end of your trip if your pet still has its head out. It is very traumatic for both your dog and yourself as you scramble to lower the window.

Your pet may be the best behaved and, on most days, stay within the confines of the vehicle, but there could be that very exciting squirrel that entices your dog to jump out of the vehicle. It happens more often than you would think. Your beloved dog rushed to the emergency clinic because of its injuries.

It is much safer for all involved if your window is only opened a very small amount that they can just feel the wind on the edge of their nose. It is also important to have your pet secured in your vehicle in the event of an accident, so it should only have limited access to the window. This also prevents your dog from lowering the window on its own, a trick my lab is very adept at. A dog in the back of a pickup truck would be much better in a solid-sided crate that is securely attached to the bed. This will protect their face and keep them from jumping out.

We want all car rides with our furry friends to end in an enjoyable experience for all, so keep in mind the safety of all involved.

Written by: Jacqui, RVT