There is nothing as wonderful on a warm spring day as riding in the car with your head out the window and the wind in your fur. Most dogs love going for a ride in the car, but vehicles can be a dangerous place for your pooch.
I go insane when I see someone driving with a little dog perched on their laps sticking his head out of the window. This is just dangerous on so many levels for the driver, the dog and any cars in the area. The dog can easily be the cause of an accident, can jump out of the vehicle and in the event of an accident has zero protection. Dogs do not belong in your lap while you are driving under any circumstances. Just don’t do it.
I recently watched video of crash testing with a dog dummy simulating a crash with a medium/large dog in the vehicle. It honestly made me never want to bring my dog in the car with me again. That isn't a realistic option for my lifestyle so instead I started looking into doggy restraint systems.
Lately there has been an incredible trend in dog restraint systems for the car. Subaru has even started doing pet crash testing on their vehicles. At the moment, there are a lot more solutions for small dogs than for large and extra-large breeds, but new products are coming out every day! There are doggy car seats for small dogs, special harnesses and even special “seat belts”. These will keep your dog safer in the event of a crash and also help prevent your dog from becoming the distraction that causes the accident. Some of the brands currently selling pet restraint systems include: SleepyPod Clickit, AllSafe Kurgo, Burgen, Ruffrider and k9 outfitters*.
Many people believe that keeping a dog in a crate is the safest option, but a lose crate does not provide much protection and not all crates are created equally. The Variocage crate looks intense, but it is the only crash-tested dog crate rated using government safety standards: ISO 27955, ECE R-17, ECE R-44, SPCT.
Currently there are not a lot of options for cats, and they don’t generally find joy in riding in cars so should be left home whenever possible. If you do have to drive with your cat, keep him in a hard carrier that is well-secured in the back seat. SleepyPod does make a carrier that is designed to be restrained with a seatbelt, it is also approved for use on airplane and a great day to day carrier. Do not let your cat roam around the car. I made this mistake once and she actually stepped on the button to open all of the windows while I was driving on the highway. I had to continue driving, grab her before she could fall out and close the windows. It was terrifying and extremely unsafe.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN THE CAR! At best it is stressful and at worst it is deadly. Temperatures go to extremes inside of your vehicle, even if it’s parked in the shade and even if the windows are open. There is also a risk in some areas of your dog actually being stolen from your car. As much as your dog loves being with you and riding in the car, sometimes it is best to just leave him at home with the TV on and his favorite toy.
*Be Kind Living has not tested these brands nor are we endorsing them. We do not currently sell dog restraint systems on our site because we have not yet done the research that we would need to feel comfortable recommend a specific item. PetAutoSafety.com has acomparison guide to some of the brands on the market right now that you might find helpful. Click here to view the pdf.