Car Safety for Your Pet

Jun 1, 2013

Lots of fun, but not good for your pet!
Credit waterboard (flickr)

The wind in your face, your ears blowing back, all those smells coming at once - riding in a car with its head out the window is so much fun for your dog, but such a BAD idea! 


Recently I received an email from an auto parts supply chain, asking “What is your dog’s favorite car part?” The correct answer, according to the email, is the car windows because a dog loves to stick its head out and feel the wind in its face, blowing its ears back, just loving life. But, the email cautioned, don’t roll that window down too far or my pet might fall out. So the company wants me to do my best friend a favor and make sure my car window motors and switches are all in good working order.

No offense to auto parts suppliers, but letting my dog hang its head out the window of a moving car is a bad idea. All the dust in the air – and dirt, small pebbles and debris kicked up by other vehicles – can become projectiles that hit your pet’s sensitive eyes and are blown into its nose, mouth and ears at whatever speed you are moving. In addition the furious flapping of the animal’s ears against its head could harm the soft tissue causing swelling and possible permanent damage.

For its own safety and for the safety of you and everyone else on the road, any animal riding in a vehicle should be restrained. Serious accidents have been caused by a pet that got underfoot, caused a distraction or blocked the driver’s view.

The safest way for your dog to travel in a car is to put it in a carrier, preferably one that is secured with a seatbelt. You can also get seatbelts made especially for pets that work with your vehicle’s normal seatbelts, and even booster seats for small pets to allow them to see out the window. Make sure the seatbelt or booster seat secures your dog with a harness that goes around its chest. Cats should be in a carrier, or a pet booster seat. Whether your pet is in a carrier, a special pet seatbelt or a pet booster seat, it will be safer in the back seat.

Keeping your animal companion safe and healthy sometimes means not letting them do something they might enjoy. That includes keeping them restrained, with their heads inside a moving vehicle. That’s a real favor you can do for your best friend, when you’re speaking of pets.