Sometimes we need to take our pets to the groomer, the vet, the pet store, on vacation, or just out for a run. Many people choose to let their pet sit comfortably in the back seat or on their laps. While this may seem like a suitable choice, it is important to understand the ramifications of letting your dog ride unrestrained. According to AAA, three in ten people admit to being distracted by their pet while driving. An astonishing 65% admit to engaging in distracting activities while driving with their pets including petting, using their arm to restrain their pet, allowing their pet to sit in their lap while driving, or taking photos of their pet. Have you ever done any of these things? If so, you are putting both yourself and your pet at risk. Consider these statistics:
It’s also important to note that just as an airbag will harm a small child, an airbag will also harm (or likely kill) a small dog.
We (Dr. McCain and family) always restrain our pets. Our smallest dog, who is about five pounds, has a console car bed. The bed sits on the console between the front seats and is secured with straps. She has a harness that fits around her chest and abdomen (not her neck – in case of a crash). There is an attached leash that clips to her harness and keeps her safely in her seat. Click on the images to visit Amazon for each item.
Our large dog is about 170 pounds so clearly, a car seat is not an option. She sits in the back seat with a harness (again, one that does not go around her neck) and a tether that attaches to the seatbelt in the car. Again, click on the image to see the product at Amazon. I particularly recommend this item. It is the Kurgo Tru-Fit Crash Tested Dog Harness.
For our cat and guinea pig, it’s a little more traditional; we use a standard pet carrier. Some cats are calm enough to be restrained in the same way as you might restrain your dog, however, if your cat (or your small dog) is not used to travel, confining them in a crate creates a sense of security and comfort. At a minimum, you should secure the carrier in the car by running the seat belt through the carrier handle. However, again we recommend a Kurgo product, the Kurgo Carrier Keep Strap.
We love our pets, and while it may seem like we are doing the best thing for them by comforting them in our lap while we drive, remember that this isn’t the safest for you, your pet, or your family. You restrain your child in a car seat to keep him or her safe, shouldn’t you do the same for your pet?