Man’s best friend riding “shotgun” with his head out of the window catching some breeze, who hasn’t seen this? Let’s face it, dogs love to do this – ears flapping in the wind, riding in style. Actually, although dogs love it, this is not safe. Not only can your dog jump out if the window is down enough, but he can be seriously injured incase there is a car accident. Air bags are just as dangerous for dogs as they are for children, and an unrestrained dog is at risk from hitting the dashboard or windshield.
How Can I Keep my Pet Safe in the Car?
The safest place for your dog is in the backseat, or even the cargo area in an SUV, not in the front with you, for a variety of reasons. As mentioned, air bags or sudden stops can injure your dog in the front seat, but it also presents a big distraction for the doggie chauffer. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looking away from the road for as little as two seconds increases your risk of having an accident by a whopping 100%!
Just as humans should wear seatbelts in the car for protection in case of an accident, so your dog should be restrained as well. I know we think our dog is more human than animal, but all things are not created equal when it comes to protection in the car.
What is the Proper Way to restrain my Dog in the Car?
One of the best ways to restrain your dog in the car is with a crate. Naturally, the crate itself will have to be restrained to prevent it from becoming thrown around in the event of an accident. Obviously, if the crate bounces around that in itself can injure your dog, and carries a risk of injury for the driver and any passengers as well. Even unrestrained, the dog himself can injure passengers if he is bounced around in a collision, and adding the weight of a carrier to the mix adds an even greater risk for injury.
Although some people use them for dogs, your car’s seatbelts are for humans only and are not appropriate for your dog. You can, however, purchase a special harness for your dog that will then connect to your existing seatbelt. A harness with padding in the chest area and a short tether are better protection for your dog in the event of an accident. Of course some harnesses are better than others, and cost is not always the deciding factor. Before choosing a harness, or any other type of car safety system, for your dog, read up on what is available and always read reviews. Honest user feedback is one of the best sources for finding what’s good and what is a waste of time and money.
Smaller dogs may enjoy a specially made car seat that allows better visibility combined with safety. Look for one that attaches to your car’s seatbelts to keep it from being tossed around the car, and has a harness for the dog himself as an extra measure of safety. Avoid ones that are more like a dog bed for the car. These will do nothing to protect you or your dog in a crash.
There are many good options available for protecting your pet in the event of a crash and to prevent him from becoming a distraction to you when you are driving. Your budget may not allow for that top-of-the-line, blinged out car seat for your dog, but investing in your pet’s safety, and by extension your own, is money well spent.
Featured Image: Thinkstock