You wouldn’t put your small child in a car without the proper car seat or booster, and you probably wouldn’t think about forgoing your seatbelt, either. Yet most of us put precious cargo, in the form of our dogs, into our cars all the time without any safety precautions.

As you hit the road this summer with your canine companion, be sure that you consider using dog vehicle safety restraints to be sure that you all arrive at your destination safely.

Traveling Safely with Pets

More and more pets are becoming members of the family, and that often means that they go where we go. It can be a lot of fun to include Peanut or Pookie on your road trip, but don’t forget that safety matters.

Many pets ride well in the car, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be buckled up in some fashion. An unrestrained pet in your vehicle can pose a few hazards:

  • A loose pet is more likely to result in distracted driving, and thus a higher accident risk.
  • An unrestrained pet may become a projectile in a crash, resulting in greater injury to both him/her and other passengers in the vehicle.
  • An unprotected pet is more likely to be injured in the event of a crash.

The good news is that there are lots of options that allow your dog to continue to enjoy the car ride, even without his or her head hanging out the window.

Looking at Dog Vehicle Safety Restraints

There are a few important points to consider when looking at dog vehicle safety restraints.

First, the pet owner must consider the different types of restraints available and what meets their needs most effectively.

Secondly, one must also consider that not all restraints are created equal. Currently there is no mandatory regulation for dog vehicle safety restraints, so pet owners must be vigilant about choosing a product that will effectively protect them and their pets.

Check out the options:

Pet carrier or crate – Depending on your pet’s size and your vehicle size, a belted-in pet carrier may be a viable choice. The carrier certainly lessens your dog as a distraction and, when secured properly, keeps him or her from launching through your windshield. However, they do not offer much protection to your dog in the event of a crash.

Pet barrier – Gates and other aftermarket barriers are nice in SUVs or vans, especially for larger dogs. Like a carrier, though, they don’t offer your dog much protection.

Harness/restraint – These seatbelt-like contraptions secure your pet in the vehicle and accomplish the first two goals, well. In 2013, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) performed independent crash testing of top pet harness brands to test their ability to protect your dog in a crash. Most failed to be provide full crash protection although ClickIt Utility Harness from Sleepypod did pass the testing.

Pilot seats – These cozy looking pet restraint beds look like an attractive option for smaller dogs especially, but the CPS did not show any of them to be effective at providing increased safety for the pet in an accident.

While restraining your pet in your vehicle is important for his safety and yours, it is important to research what works best for you and your dog and to be sure that you are getting what you want out of any device. Many products have manufacturer claims that may or may not be substantiated. Hopefully someday soon there will be federal regulations for pet restraints as there are with restraints for humans, but until then be sure to use common sense and reason. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital wishes you and your furry travel companions a safe and fun summer.