Keep your dog safe and happy during car rides involves a proper seatbelt, along with a few comforts of home.
With seatbelt laws in place for humans, laws are now being passed that require animals to buckle up as well. In Maine, Connecticut and Arizona, for example, you can be charged for driving with an animal on your lap, under these states’ distracted-driving laws. Similar laws also apply in New Jersey and Hawaii and could soon be enacted in Rhode Island as well.
“It’s a safety factor,” says Dr. Franc Von Esse, Director of Emergency Services at St. Frances Veterinary Center in New Jersey. “Not only will unrestrained animals injure themselves and their people, but the distraction of a moving dog or cat in the car can cause an accident. I’ve seen injuries range from minor to fatal because of basic blunt force trauma during a crash.”
Test simulations done by Sleepypod, using a 12-pound canine crash test dummy named MAX, showed that an unrestrained dog will strike a barrier with 650 pounds of force on impact — and that’s at only 30mph! In addition, unrestrained animals will most likely try to escape in a panic if windows are broken in a wreck, and can easily get lost or hit by other vehicles.
Clearly, some form of restraint, whether it’s a dog seatbelt or a properly secured carrier or crate, is a necessity. “I use a seatbelt to not only keep my dog from becoming a flying object but to keep her contained,” says dog trainer Abby Harrison. “If I were to be in an accident, I don’t want medical assistance delayed as EMTs try to reach me and catch her.”
- Products such as the Sleepypod are an excellent option for small dogs and cats. The company’s specially designed Pet Passenger Restraint System holds a car seatbelt in place around the carrier. The carrier is soft on the inside and firm on the outside, to further protect the animal.
- Pioneer Pet’s Cuddler Carrier & Pet Bed has a multipurpose design. It provides comfort in the home and is also a safe carrier when animal parents transport their precious cargo.
- For small dogs that want to look out the window, a Sherpa folding car seat will keep them happy and safe. A leash tether can connect to the In Car Harness to keep the dog in his seat. For larger dogs, the company offers a faux lambskin-lined harness that fits chest sizes 12” to 32”. And their car seat hammock helps prevent the dog from falling off the seat. All this company’s carriers come with an auto-safe strap to ensure car travel complies with recent state legislation regarding animal restraints in vehicles.
- Another way to prevent the dog from falling off the rear seat is to use Kyjen’s Outward Hound Extend a Seat. Adjustable straps attach to the backseat and headrest to expand the dog’s space and add a padded surface for comfort.
- Wayfair’s mini soft travel crate has top and front door access, a fleece pad, interior tether, and rear pouches for storage or snacks. It attaches to the seatbelt.
- The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog harness is a solution for harder-to-fit dogs like boxers and setters. Made from the same materials as seatbelts, the harness can be used when walking the dog or when he’s buckled in for a ride. The patent pending steel nesting buckle system on the harness is based on those used by rock climbers and linesmen.
For his comfort — and yours
Here are some additional ideas to help keep your dog stress-free — and your car clean.
Amber Technology’s On the Go Care Pack takes care of tummy troubles or exposure to illness with a combination of herbs, Good To Go Calming Collars are filled with herbal blends to reduce the stress of travel.
Zen Matrix is a whole food supplement from Mushroom Matrix that can help calm and focus dogs made anxious by travel, while NWC Naturals’ Oxy-PH Boost supports probiotic health and therefore digestive health.
What’s the fun of taking a car ride, whether it’s around the block or to the next state, if your best buddy can’t go with your? With the many restrains and others accessories now available, he can easily travel in comfort and safety. And if you ever get pulled over, you’ll know he’s properly buckled up!