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As a responsible dog owner, it’s important that you know the steps on how to keep a dog safe in a car crash and what you can do if it happens.
Nothing beats the fun flair of driving with our furry friends to the park or just taking them out for a few errands in town.
Such moments provide enjoyable scenery and elevate our bonding experience with the dogs. But we need to beware that accidents are prone to happen and take the necessary steps in being on the safe side.
Come along with us as we dive into this subject and highlight the things you need to know about traveling safely with your dog.
Quick Facts Round-Up
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has put out that close to 10% of car accidents in America involve pets.
This is a worrying statistic and should capture the interest of any pet parent driving with furry passengers.
According to Bark Buckle UP, it has been estimated that a 60-pound dog could create a 2700-pound projectile force in the event of an accident occurring at 35 miles per hour.
That kind of force is more than enough to kill the dog and other human passengers involved in the car crash.
Yet according to a survey done by AAA, slightly over 80% of pet owners have admitted to driving with an unrestrained pet in the car.
5 Ways on How to Keep a Dog Safe in a Car Crash
1. Don’t Drive with A Loose Dog on Board
Driving with a non-restrained dog might appear to be a cool thing to do especially if your pet seems restless and anxious while staying in one place.
It’s already illegal to drive with an unrestrained dog in some states in the USA. We currently have more states working on formulating the legal framework to address this. While a few more states like New York have not authorized restrictions for driving with a loose dog.
An unrestrained dog in the car has the latitude to roam freely and they serve as a major source of distraction to the driver.
This practice is also dangerous for dogs because, in the event of a crash, the loose dog can be tossed within the vehicle leading to serious injuries to them and the human passengers.
And this is just to say the least because the poor dog can possibly be ejected through the windscreen leading to further damage and threats to their lives.
Therefore, it is important to contain and restrain your dog during the trip no matter how smooth your ride seems.
There are many restraint and anchoring options that you can use to keep Fido safe while in the car.
2. Restrain Your Dog While Driving
There are several methods you can use to secure your dog as you focus on the road ahead. They include:
Using a dog car seat
A dog car seat combines security and comfort for the pup passengers while on the road. These seats have connection straps and other anchoring systems that keep the dog safe throughout the journey.
This helps to hold your dog steady in the case of sudden stops or the unlucky event of an accident.
Whether you go for a doggy crate, hammock-style seat, or booster seat you can be sure to give your dog a secure spot in your car.
Feel free to browse our top picks section for the top dog car seats to start your journey of providing comfort and security for your dog.
Installing a dog barrier
A dog barrier is an effective way of keeping your dog contained in the backseat or the trunk of your vehicle. These barrier nets are easy to install and remove, making them a convenient option to use on the go.
This method prevents the dog from roaming around and causing distractions to the driver while focusing on the road.
It also prevents the dog from being tossed back and forth in the event of an accident.
You should choose dog barrier netting that is both versatile and adjustable. This will enable you to use the barrier for different vehicles.
Use crash-tested harnesses and leashes
Crash-tested harnesses and leashes are very important restraint tools for anchoring your furry companion when driving with them.
These accessories have been designed and manufactured to withstand the heavy push and pull associated with a car crash.
They are tested for compliance with the relevant standards by organizations such as the Center for Pet Safety (CPS).
A harnessed dog in the car is less likely to suffer grave damage due to accidents compared to a loose dog.
You can install these products on your dog by leashing the harnessed dog and connecting them to the seat belt to secure them.
DO NOT attach the seat belt directly to a dog’s collar since this may be uncomfortable for your pup and may lead to choking.
3. Keep Your Dog’s Head in The Car
Letting your furry passenger stick their head through the window may seem like a common thing to do while in traffic.
This practice can turn out to be dangerous and might cause a car accident hence predisposing your dog to suffer serious injuries.
The other major risk is that your dog’s head will get exposed to flying debris such as gravel when cruising on dusty roads or in the countryside.
This can cause physical injuries to the head while inflicting much pain on your lovely pup and potentially causing head trauma.
When driving at high speeds, the strong wind will cause your dog’s ears (pinnae) to flap repeatedly against the head. This rapid action might cause ear swelling since the blood will pool toward the edges of the ears.
Allowing your dog to stick their head through the window while driving is made even worse by the fact that they could easily fall off in case of sharp corners and bumpy rides.
You should teach and encourage your dog to keep their head inside the car every time you travel with them. The views from inside the car with closed windows are great too!
4. Take Precautions While Walking With A Dog
Whenever you step out onto a busy street with your dog, there are lots of people and cars and it may become hazardous if your pet goes loose.
Here are some of the precautions you need to beware of to keep your dog safe with you:
Don’t let your dog off leash when around cars
It is important to always have your dog secured by your side with a leash when walking with them outdoors.
An unleashed dog can easily lose sight and wander off on their own in unfamiliar territories.
The loose dog may then dash into the busy traffic zone and this could turn out to be dangerous and fatal.
Teach your dog to walk on a leash properly without pulling and be sure to keep them safe when on the streets.
Discourage your dog from chasing cars
Dogs have the predisposition to hunt and chase after prey; a trait they inherited from their wolf ancestors.
One of the most significant hazards when walking with a dog along a busy road is their tendency to chase cars. A fast-paced car appears like suitable prey which invites the dog for a running battle.
You should train your dog to always stay by your side whenever you step out with them for a quick walk-in town.
This good trait will prevent your canine companion from getting distracted by cars. A wrong chase may be hazardous and fatal for an innocent doggo who was just trying to exercise their hunting skills.
5. Have a first aid kit for your dog
Just like your own, make sure to include a furnished first aid kit for your dog in the car whenever you’re traveling with them.
This kit will come in handy when your dog gets bruised or injured in case of a traffic accident. An equipped first aid kit for your dog should be stocked with items such as a bandage roll, antiseptic, a pair of tweezers, and a thermometer, among many other things.
With this kit, you can be sure to attend to your dog on sight in the event of an emergency as you find your way to the vet for professional care.
This will act to reduce your dog’s pain, prevent further bleeding, and keep germs from attacking open wounds.
Proper first-aid handling will help in increasing your dog’s chances of recovery and survival in severe cases.
On the question of how to keep a dog safe in a car crash, remember that it is your exclusive responsibility to take care of your dog in and out of the vehicle.
Whether there is a legal requirement or not, we recommend that you always restrain your pup whenever you place them in the car.
Don’t step on that gas pedal before confirming that your dog is secured for the ride. Keep in mind it only takes a microsecond for a car to crash.
Be on the safe side to ensure you and your furry passenger arrive at your destination and back home safely and comfortably.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.