Travel Tips

Auto Safety: Safe Restraints for Dogs Riding in Cars

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Parents don’t usually let their human children ride in the car with no safety belt and with their heads hanging out the window, and pet parents should be following suit. According to a recent survey, a whopping 61% of pet owners don’t restrain their animals while riding in the car. Unrestrained pets not only cause a distraction but can cause serious injury to pets and drivers. Read this list by Kristen Levine of of safe restraints for dogs riding in cars.

Auto Safety: Safe Restraints for Dogs Riding in Cars

It’s time for a serious mind shift among pet owners. Parents don’t let their children travel in the car without a seatbelt or with their head hanging out the window, and pet parents should follow that same rule for their pets.

Pet Auto Safety: What Distraction?

Chew on this: according to a 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, distracted driving is the number one cause of driving accidents. This precedes drunk driving, speeding, falling asleep at the wheel and aggressive driving. Distracted driving includes texting, adjusting the GPS, eating and distractions caused by pets.

Interestingly enough, large (more than 50 lbs.) and small dogs (under 20 lbs.) are most likely to travel with their owners. While large dogs often ride in the back seat or cargo area of the vehicle, it is not uncommon for an unrestrained animal—no matter their size— to jump over the seat to get a closer look at the squirrel that just darted across the street or the blonde “Lassie” walking down the sidewalk. You’ll probably agree that 20-50 plus pounds of excited, squirming, and most likely barking canine fun is way more than most people can handle with their hands free, much less with both hands on the steering wheel.

Unrestrained cats will typically try to hide underneath a seat or worse, under the driver’s feet! What could be more distracting than that?

It’s also not uncommon to see cute lap dogs “driving” in the laps of their owners. Some assume that since air bags provide protection for humans, they would provide the same protection for pets traveling in the car. But with air bags deploying at an average speed of 200 m.p.h., what cushions the impact of a crash for a human would be a bone-breaking force for an animal. If a front airbag deploys when you have a pet on your lap, the airbag will almost certainly kill the animal. Also, the force of the bag will push the pet into your abdomen, possibly causing human internal injuries.

When choosing the appropriate pet restraint, pet parents have several options. The right selection depends on the breed and size of your animal as well as the type of vehicle in which you will be traveling. Regardless of which pet restraint you choose, keeping a pet safe in the car, as it is with children, is a matter of properly adjusted safety equipment and positioning in the car.

Pet Auto Safety: Canine Seat Belt Systems

For large or small dogs, one of the safest ways to secure them inside a car is with a canine seat belt system.

Pet Auto Safety: Pet Car Seats

Pet car seats, similar to those used for children, are a viable option for use with smaller dogs.

Pet Auto Safety: Safety Barriers

Vehicle pet barriers are a great way to minimize distraction while you’re driving, keeping you and your pets safe. Most auto pet barriers are adjustable and designed to fit in a variety of vehicles while many are made specifically for hatch back cars, SUVs and mini vans.

Pet Auto Safety: Pet Carriers

Pet carriers are an ideal option for traveling with cats and small dogs because they act not only as a form of protection, but also can provide a reassuring space for the pet within the vehicle.

Pet Auto Safety: Pet Crates

Should you desire the enclosed protection of a pet carrier for your larger dog, a crate may be the most suitable selection.

It is critical that pet owners are aware of and educated about the importance of properly securing pets in a pet crate, by a dog harness connected to a seat belt, or behind a divider to keep the pet in the cargo area of a wagon or SUV.

Read the rest of Kristen Levine’s list of safe restraints for dogs riding in cars here. Do you travel with your dog in the car? Do you restrain him when you do? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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