[tweetthis]New Year’s Day Tips To Keep Your Dog Safe In The Car[/tweetthis]
Did you know that more than half of us will have our dog in the car when we leave home to ring in the New Year? A study conducted by the AAA (American Automobile Association) says that 52% of pet owners travel with their dog or cat when they run a quick errand or drive across the country. I think that statistic would be even higher for those of us with specially-abled fur kids. When Sophie lost her ability to walk she became an avid car riding pup. She loved the cornucopia of smells coming through the window and checking out all of the sights. She didn’t care if the car rides were to a veterinary appointment, an acupuncture treatment or to go with me to the bank. She just longed to be in the car where she could feel like a regular dog again.
That’s why I thought it was important to share these New Year’s Day tips to keep your dog safe in the car and introduce you to Colleen Paige, the former EMT who created National Pet Travel Safety Day on January 2, 2016.
Colleen Paige started the special day because in her role as an EMT in Southern California she had to treat too many accidents that happened when a pet was traveling in a vehicle. The goal of National Pet Travel Safety Day is to bring awareness about the dangers dogs and cats face when they ride with us and to educate people about ways they can make travel safer.
Can you guess the biggest cause of pet related car accidents?
The No. 1 cause of pet related automobile accidents occur when the driver is distracted because a pet is allowed to run loose the car.
Statistics reveal that the vast majority of dogs and cats are not restrained in a moving vehicle:
- 17 percent allow a dog to sit in their lap.
- 13 percent of drivers admit to give food and treats to their dog while the car is moving.
- 4 percent acknowledge they play with their dog while driving.
The No. 1 safety tip to keep your dog safe in the car is to have pets sit in the back seat and restrain their movement with a secured harness, crate, booster seat or hammock that is fastened to the car and your dog.
The National Pet Travel Safety website states that even when pet parents drive as slow as 10 MPH tragedy can happen fast.
“If you must stop quickly due to an animal or hazard in the road, or swerve to avoid someone who crosses the line into your lane your dog faces the risk of flying into the dashboard, windshield or the back of your seat and at the very least, suffering emotional distress, cuts and bruises and broken bones from blunt force trauma. If you allow them to ride in your lap, or worse, allowing them to rest in your lap, on the edge of the driver’s window, they can be crushed between you and the steering wheel in a sudden stop or accident, as well being ejected from the vehicle into oncoming traffic.”
There are many good safety harnesses on the market. Pet parents should look for ones that give your dog enough room to stand up, turn around, move a bit from side to side and lay down. When your dog wears a safety harnesses it doesn’t spoil the fun of their ride and it still allows you to open a window so your dog can feel the breeze and sniff the air without putting them in harm’s way.
Here are a few harnesses I like from HandicappedPets.com.
The Hold-A-Dog Harness slides easily into a car seat belt for safe travel. It also has a lifting harness attached to help paralyzed or aging dogs get into the car with ease.
The Walkin’ Front Safety Harness is a safety belt for your dog and a harness for walking. It’s made from a padded, breathable material that secures to the car with snaps.
If you can’t afford to purchase a safety harness, Colleen suggests that pet parents loop a strong, thick leash through the seatbelt to confine your dog from moving around and while it may not be 100% affective at keeping them from being ejected, it lessens the risk significantly.
In addition, some of the features that are built into a vehicle to protect people can be hazardous to our pets. Airbags have proven to be deadly to dogs when they deploy in an accident, especially when the dog is unrestrained. Colleen also warns pet owners not to rely solely on the use of popular metal separators that are built to keep dogs in the back of a car. While they are a good way to keep your dog from distracting you; they might not be strong enough for protection in a crash, especially in a rollover accident where a dog can be ejected from the vehicle.
Take a Travel Kit
If you’re heading out for a long road trip with your dog or cat prepare a Travel Kit to keep you fur kid safe. A basic kit should include:
- Travel bowls
- Two jugs of water
- Three days worth of food and medications
- A warm blanket
- Extra collars and leash
- A pet first-aid kit
- Familiar toys
- Poop bags
- Pet bed or pillow
With proper planning and adding these important safety tips, you and your pet will have many happy hours traveling together.