Are you hitting the road with your dog this summer? Whether you are taking a short trip to the store or veterinarian or venturing out on a road trip, it is important to practice proper car safety for dogs. Sure, it can be fun to allow your dog to cuddle on your lap while you take a cruise, but it is not exactly safe for you or your dog. First, a dog can be incredibly distracting while you are driving. You never know when a dog will get riled up or just need attention and if they are sitting on your lap, you probably won’t be able to pay as close of attention to the road as you should. Imagine your excited two year old child sitting on your lap, touching your face, poking you, bumping the steering wheel, squirming around. You would never drive like that with a child and the same dangers exist if you drive like that with a dog. But, even allowing your dog to sit in the back seat unrestrained is dangerous. If you are involved in a car accident anything that is unrestrained essentially turns into a projectile. It can go flying in any direction, hitting whoever is in the car or flying out of the window at a fast velocity. Your dog is no exception – your dog unrestrained in a car is a projectile.
Many people think that just because their dog is calm, it is not dangerous for their dog to be in the car unrestrained but that dog could severely injure itself or someone else if an accident occurs. There are dog restraint belts that can be easily and quickly installed in the car and function like a seatbelt for the dog. And, they are not expensive! Many people do not want to spend any more than necessary on their dogs because the expenses can add up quickly. But, for a nominal investment, you can protect your dog, your family, and others on the road from accidents and injury. The safety restraint is similar to a chest harness leash. You quickly buckle your dog into it and it has a short tether to the car so that if an accident occurs they cannot fly around in the car and the harness will help reduce the risk of injury. While a crate is still a better option than allowing your dog to be loose in the car, a safety restraint is preferable. And, though barriers can be installed and are also better than allowing your pet to be loose in the car, if an accident occurs, your dog will still likely suffer more injury than they would if they were in a harness. Consult your veterinarian and consider what is best for your individual dog, your car, and your lifestyle but never forget to secure your dog for a car ride of any length!