Is your dog a trusted sidekick that travels with you wherever you go, whether it is a quick trip to the market or an epic cross country road trip? I mean, what dog doesn’t love the wind in their face and a best friend by their side? It is a dream for most pups to go for a ride with their humans, but are they safe while they travel? We love our dogs like family, so let’s take a look at dog safety every time they head out with us. 

The Dangers 

You would never let you child hang their head out the window or take a ride without securing their seatbelt? Consider these rules when thinking about the dangers that are posed every time you get in the car. One of the biggest dangers of having a dog travel with its owner is that they are a distraction to the driver. According to PetProSupply studies, 60% of dog owners have driven while distracted by their pets as passengers, with more than half reporting that they either pet their dog while driving or allow him/her to sit in their lap. Some even admit to giving treats or playing with their dog while driving. This distraction can mean seconds with eyes off the road and potentially an accident. 

Another danger for dogs is the potential of an accident that would cause injury or potentially death is a pup is not safely restrained during the trip. For example, studies have shown that if a car crashes at a speed of just 25mph, an unrestrained dog can be projected forward at a force equal to 40 times its weight. A large-size dog weighing 75 lbs., for example, can achieve an impact force of 3,000 pounds in a car crash, which could be a lethal blow for both a passenger and the pet. 

Even for smaller pets traveling at just 30 miles per hour, an unrestrained 10-lb dog will exert 300 pounds of pressure in an accident, according to Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, traffic safety programs manager for AAA. Without a crash-tested safety restraint, that pint-size pooch can injure passengers and become severely injured on impact. 

Keeping Fido Safe 

Since dogs can be a serious distraction while driving and would be in harm’s way if an accident should occur, there are some steps that dog owners should take to keep their fur-friends safe. The American Kennel Club suggests that the safest way to transport your pups is to secure them with their very own seat belts in a crate or behind a barrier in the back of your car. Even if your dog loves to ride shotgun, riding in a secure harness, in a crate or, depending upon the kind of car you have, a barrier could stop a catastrophe from happening if a collision should occur. 

Be sure to investigate the harness, barrier, or crate you want to purchase. According to Consumer Reports (our favorite non-profit source for consumer awareness and product ratings), The Center for Pet Safety properly conducted third-party tests on 11 car safety harnesses for dogs. The results of the safety tests were staggering. Of the 11 harnesses that claim crash protection, only seven passed the initial strength portion of the test and therefore qualified for the crash test evaluation. Find out what weight and general size is appropriate for your dog before you install the safety feature. 

Keep yourself and your pup safe every time you get in the car by separating him/her from the driver, harnessing, and/or using a barrier so a crash does not turn Fido into a projectile. Read more about ways to keep your dog safe in the car here