FCVC believes when it comes to traveling in a car with your dog, safety should be paramount for you both. However, a recent study from Volvo Car USA found some surprising statistics.
According to the report (which partnered with Harris Poll), an estimated 97 percent of dog owners drive with their pet in the car, but only 48 percent have safety gear for their four-legged companion.
Other shocking finds included that 41 percent of pet parents let their dog ride in the front seat (front seat air bags are not designed to protect dogs), and only 23 percent buckle their canine in to standard seat belts (unsecured dogs can be a harm to themselves and the driver). The most distressing number in the report, however, is that a mere five percent of drivers have a built-in safety pet system in their automobile.
So what does this all mean for pet parents who still want to take their dogs in the car with them? Well, that there is definitely a need for better safety measures for pets in cars.
The study also found that 71 percent of pet owners agree that vehicle manufacturers should proactively build more dog safety features into their vehicles, while 24 percent of all pet parents refuse to travel with their pet in the car because they fear the ride will not be safe enough for them.
“Our survey showed that pet parents want to travel with their furry friends, but worry about safety,” says Jim Nichols, product and technology communications manager for Volvo Car USA.
Even if you don’t have a car with a built-in safety feature for pets, you can be a responsible driver and pet parent by properly harnessing your dog in the car as well as using safety items, such as carriers and dog booster seats, every time you drive with your dog.
As you plan your road trips, be sure to consider your pet’s car safety before pulling out of the driveway. With states like Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois, and Maine banning motorists from driving with their pets in their laps and New Jersey debating a law that would require pets to wear seat belts, now’s the time to investigate proper car restraints. Here are some options for your cat or dog:
Ruff Rider Canine Vehicle Restraint
When pets are in car accidents, they often suffer multiple injuries, including broken bones, ruptured lungs, and severe trauma as a result of not being restrained properly, said Ann E. Hohenhaus, DVM, ACVIM (oncology & small animal internal medicine) at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Unrestrained pets can also injure themselves trying to jump out of or down from open windows as the car is moving.
Help prevent your dog from moving around your vehicle freely with a step-in harness like the Ruff Rider Cainine Vehicle Restraint. It is designed to work both in and out of the car and will fit dogs from 6 to 150 pounds. Make sure to measure your pet’s chest and neck to ensure proper sizing before ordering any type of travel harness to be sure the product protects your pet the way it is designed.
Small Dog Seatbelt
Tested for small dogs up to 25 pounds, the Doggie Seatbelt attaches to any dog harness and can easily be moved from one car to another. You can also attach the seatbelt to your cat’s harness to protect it on long car rides outside of its crate. Look for well-made products that are designed to fit your dog properly to make sure the restraint does its job properly.
Having a properly restrained pet can also prevent distracted driving, Hohenhaus said, which can lead to car accidents. A recent study has found that, similar to texting while driving, having pets in the car can prevent drivers from keeping their eyes on the road at all times and can lead to a crash.
Bergan Auto Harness
A seatbelt and harness system that uses carabiners to attach to the webbing of your car’s seatbelt and your pet’s harness, the Bergan Auto Dog Harness offers a secure fit and meets the V9DT safety durability test. It fits dogs from 10 to 150 pounds and has a padded chest area to keep your pup comfortable and safe.
While there are certain safety tests done on car restraints for pets, Hohenhaus said that unlike seatbelts and car seats for people, there are currently no government standards or tests in place for car restraints for pets.
Kurgo Pet Travel Back Seat Barrier
Keep your pet safely in the backseat of your car (even if you’re stopped short) with this Kurgo Pet Travel Back Seat Barrier. The partition, which fits most vehicles, fastens between the front and passenger seat and prevents your dog or cat from making their way into the front seat as you drive.
Even if your cat or small dog is in a carrier, they could easily make their way into the front seat in the event of an accident, and installing a back seat or cargo barrier will help prevent your animal from being a projectile that could injure you as much as itself if the car crashes, Dr. Hohenhaus said.
EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Car Restraint
Let your dog sit freely on her own with the EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Dog Car Restraint that clicks right into your car’s seatbelt buckle. Secure the opposite end of the restraint to your dog’s harness or collar and adjust it to fit the size of your dog and the amount of movement you’d like her to have.
FCVC believes that your safety and your pets safety is paramount. Distractions for the driver in your vehicle need to be kept to the minimum. Don’t worry about your pet being safe when you drive – be proactive and implement the measures needed to keep you both safe.