Pet owners love to take their pets with them when they go to the beach, parks, shopping malls, outdoor restaurants or visiting with friends and family. Often, our pet sitters are asked to take a client’s dog to a nearby park for a fun, safe walk. Those lucky dogs usually go ballistic when they hear “Want to go for a ride?” and they see the leash come out.
Since dogs come in all sizes, you want to be sure that your pet will be safe while riding in your car. The last thing you should do is to hold a pet on your lap while you’re at the wheel or let him free roam in the car while it is in motion. With a sudden stop, your dog becomes a flying projectile. According to AAA, “A 10-pound unrestrained dog in a car traveling 30 miles an hour will exert 300 pounds of force during a crash.”
And while it is funny to see pictures of dogs leaning out of car windows to catch the breeze, that is a dangerous practice. Something may hit them, they could topple out or suffer other injury from flying debris. And don’t even get me started about dogs riding in the backs of open-bed trucks!
More Worse Case Scenerios
Your dog is in back seat and decides he wants to jump into the front to be with you. He lands on the steering wheel, you lose control and a very nasty accident follows. And when you drive with MORE than one unsecured dog in the car, you magnify potential dangers to you, any passengers, your pets and all the drivers around you.
Let’s Be Safe Out There
Anytime you you take your pets in the car for a long or short ride, be sure they are safely secured — in either a car seat, special car harness, booster seat or you have put up a barrier between either the front and back seats or your dogs are confined in the rear of the car, behind a barrier.
I have small dogs and use Snoozer pet car seats. The car seat holds them in place and has a built-in short leash that attaches to the dog harness. Be sure to use a harness, not a collar, so your dog does not choke or have trachea damage if the car makes a sudden stop. Little dogs can see out the windows and enjoy their ride much more than if they have to keep standing up on the arm rest to look out. These car seats, and others like them, come in a variety of sizes for different weight dogs.
There are other car safety harnesses that attach to a snapped seat belt and fit larger dogs well. Using these will keep your pet in one place and prevent jumping around in the car or hanging over the driver. Your dog can see fine out the window, but safely. You will find all manner of car safety device for dogs online with a quick Google search or head over to Amazon.com and see the variety and selection there. The pet-centric big box stores in town carry some, as do a few locally-owned pet retailers in the Richmond area.
For even larger dogs or dogs who would be better off in the rear of a SUV, van, etc., you can get a barrier to fit your car to contain your dog in the rear space. The barrier fits from the ceiling of car to behind the back seats, depending on your car and the barrier that fits. Also, there are ramps available to assist dogs into the back entrance to the car. This is especially handy for older dogs who may be arthritic. Their days of being able to jump up into the car may have passed, but their love of car riding adventures is alive and well.
Yes, Cats Too
And do I need to mention that a cat in the car should always be in a carrier!! Loose in a car, they will crawl under the car seats, get under the gas and brake pedals, escape when you get out of the car and many more terrible things. Always have a cat in a carrier and buckle them in. It will be much safer for everyone involved.
Happy Tails and Trails
Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety conduct exhaustive crash tests to determine the best and worst of pet restraints, crates and other transport devices. We recommend you do your due dilligence and then decide which car pet restraint device is best for your dog.
Riding in the car is fun for you and your pets — just be sure to keep them safe!
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.