Keep your dog safe and sound

From heavy duty harnesses to high-tech ID tags, products designed to keep your dog safe are everywhere. 

When it comes to giving our dogs the best lives possible, we tend to mainly focus on health. We make sure they see the vet regularly, feed them the best diet we can, and give them lots of exercise and TLC. And that’s awesome, as well as vitally important! In the process, however, we may overlook some aspects of canine safety, which is just as important to a dog’s well-being as his physical and emotional health. Making sure we use durable harnesses, equipping our dogs with the best possible ID in the event they go missing, and keeping them properly secured while riding in the car are just some of the things to keep in mind when it comes to canine safety. In this article, we’ll look at a few of many products designed to help keep our dogs safe and sound.

Harnesses and leashes

If you’ve ever had a leash break, or a dog slip out of his collar, you already know how important it is to choose durable, properly-fitting products for your daily walks together. A harness is preferable to a collar, since many dogs pull and tug, and a collar can damage his trachea. It’s also important to choose the right harness – it should be of high quality and made from durable materials that won’t tear or come apart easily. Make sure to measure your dog and get the correct fit.

Take a look at how the harness is made. Broad straps are most comfortable, especially for larger dogs. Thin straps made from poor quality materials may dig into the dog in places, making him uncomfortable or even chafing his skin.

Thin straps made from poor quality materials may dig into the dog in places, making him uncomfortable or even chafing his skin.

S.I.T. Gear makes high quality harnesses with wide straps for a comfortable fit. They come in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns. For extra safety when walking at night, the company also offers optional lights for their harnesses. “All S.I.T. Gear vests are created with safety in mind,” says Abby Ochoa. “When combined with a custom designed seat belt restraint [more on this below], your dog will be protected in the best possible way when traveling with you.”

Be sure to also consider the quality of your dog’s leash. Leather and nylon are the most popular dog leash materials because they’re durable and long-lasting. Make sure the clip is also well-made, that it’s fastened securely to the leash and won’t come open easily.

Retractable leashes are not recommended. They can be dangerous to both you and your dog. They don’t offer much control, which means your dog can be suddenly chasing a squirrel out into a busy street. Alternatively, if your dog is startled and runs around your legs, you can quickly get wrapped up in the leash and fall.

Lighted leashes are an excellent safety feature for nighttime walking.

Identification systems

Even the most careful dog guardian can’t guarantee her canine won’t escape or go missing at some point. A dog can slip out an open door in the blink of an eye, or get lost during an off-leash run in the woods. Adequate ID helps ensure your dog will be returned to you safe and sound. Traditional forms of ID include microchipping, and/or a collar or harness tag with your name and phone number on it.

Nowadays, though, thanks to digital technology, canine ID systems are becoming very sophisticated, and are much more likely to result in a happy reunion when a dog goes missing. Many companies offer electronic tags and online registration that allows you to instantly report if your dog gets lost or runs away, while providing his finder with the instructions he or she needs to alert the company through a smartphone or computer that the dog has been found.

Canine ID systems are becoming very sophisticated, and are much more likely to result in a happy reunion when a dog goes missing.

“Our tag provides instant 24/7 access to everything and anything you’d want someone to know if they find your dog,” says Martin Hubbard of blanket ID. This info includes multiple contact numbers as well as veterinary and health information, allergies and care instructions. “Report the loss of your dog on our site, and you can send an instant email alert to local shelters, animal control, rescues, vets and local blanket ID members. When a finder enters the blanket ID tag number, you receive an email to say your dog has been found.”

Doggy seat belts

Most dogs love riding in the car, but just like us, they need to be safely secured so they don’t get injured or killed in the event of an accident. Even putting on the brakes too abruptly can cause a dog to fall off the backseat and hurt himself. A growing number of doggy seat belts and harnesses are appearing on the market, but they don’t all perform the way they should, so it’s important to do some homework before making a purchase. Again, you want high quality products made from durable materials that will not only stand up to force, but also help protect the dog’s body from trauma.

Sleepypod is a good choice because the company uses high-tech, NASA-designed canine crash test dummies to ensure the safety of its carriers and restraint harnesses. Additionally, states the company website, “The Pet Passenger Restraint System (PPRS) secures a pet in a vehicle and restricts harmful movement resulting from a sudden vehicle stop or frontal collision. Every Sleepypod carrier and harness includes PPRS components and features to improve pet passenger safety.”

S.I.T. Gear, meanwhile, offers a simple-to-use adjustable seat belt restraint that attaches to their harnesses. The other end is designed to fit into a standard seat belt opening, keeping the dog restrained and in one place during travel.

When buying a vehicle-safe harness for your dog avoid any product that has weak buckles and fasteners – especially if they’re made of plastic. All hardware should be made of steel. Check any stitching to make sure it’s strong. The harness should also have wide straps to help diffuse the effects of an impact. If you’re buying a crate or carrier, again choose a high quality product made of durable materials. Note that wire cages are not safe for use in vehicles.

This article only touches the surface of the plethora of canine safety products on the market today. Investing in what you need to keep your own canine companion safe and sound in all situation will give you peace of mind, and keep him happy!


Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.