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Is Your Dog Safe in the Car?

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This classic image of a dog enjoying the car window’s breeze could actually be deadly.

The answer is probably a resounding NO; and I’m not going to judge you or act like I am free of guilt either, so don’t worry! Many pet owners (including myself) drive around with their dog(s) in the car, and most of the time the dog(s) in question are unrestrained. This may seem fine, but it actually is extremely dangerous – not only to the dog, but to the driver and passengers in the car as well.

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They’re having fun now, but not when the driver brakes suddenly…

There are many reasons why people drive around with their dogs completely out and about, the main one being that they don’t think it’s a safety concern. They don’t expect to get into an accident, so they think their dog will be safe and remained unharmed. Again, I am including myself in this, so don’t mistake me for being self righteous; I should know better as well! This phenomenon is kind of strange if you think about it, considering that for the last few decades, human beings have been not only encouraged to wear their seat belts in the car, but have been TICKETED if they don’t. Not to mention all of the scientific studies, experiences, and other forms of proof existing that wearing a seat belt literally saves lives.

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Really cute but also really dangerous.

So why don’t we think that our pets are in danger if they are just loosely riding in the car? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I even am asking myself right now, and I cannot find the answer. The only one I can muster up is, “Humans aren’t as resilient as our pets are,” which is obviously a really stupid answer and extremely incorrect. The fact of the matter is, that EVERY TIME you bring your dog in your car and it isn’t restrained properly, it is in DANGER of being HURT and/or KILLED.

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“Why don’t you care about my safety?!”

Even if you don’t get into an accident, a sudden slam on the brakes can send your pet flying to the front of the car, which could prove to be very damaging or fatal to them. This has happened a couple times actually, when my dog is enjoying the car ride in the front seat – suddenly I hit the brakes, she flies forward and hits her head on the dashboard. Granted, she wasn’t too far away from it, and I wasn’t going that fast, so she was fine – but what if she was in the backseat, and what if I was going very fast? She could have flown to the front, smacked her head on the dashboard, and become paralyzed, broken her neck, or any other horrible injury. She is a bigger dog too, so she would be able to take the hit more gracefully. But, what if I was driving my Chihuahua, and she flew from the backseat and slammed into the dashboard or windshield? She could receive numerous broken bones, paralysis, brain damage, and even die. Not to mention the fact that the dog could fly into you causing your arms to lose control of the wheel and/or the gear shift, causing your car to veer into traffic, off the road, or even off of a cliff.

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One of the many options available for pet restraint in your vehicle.

Even worse than those scenarios is obviously a full-on collision with car to car contact. Even a minor accident could send your dog literally flying through the windshield or out the window, where they would be ejected into traffic. Horrifying and scary, I know – but it is definitely a reality that we must consider! What if your car rolled over or flipped over, and your dog was just bouncing around inside of your metal shell of a vehicle? Do you think they would make it?

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Simple yet effective safety.

Another extreme danger of a loose dog in your car is the fact that the momentum from the motion of driving keeps going even after the brake/collision stops the car – which now makes your pet a dangerous projectile whose force can injure you, your passengers, and other drivers as well. Even if your pet somehow miraculously survives the accident, the blunt force trauma from their skull, bones, or entire body can collide with your skull, neck, or any other part of the human body to produce a horrible injury. In fact, even if you have a tiny Chihuahua in the back seat, the momentum from the accident can be so strong that it will be similar to being shot in the head, neck, back, shoulder, etc. with a large bullet – which can either paralyze you, shatter your bone(s), and/or kill you.

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“Thanks for keeping me safe!”

You may think that this is all paranoia about something that “probably won’t happen,” but these types of accidents happen all the time, and they can definitely happen to you! I admit that I am naive thinking that I won’t be in such an accident, but anything is possible. Like I said, even a minor collision or just braking too hard could result in your animal being severely injured or killed – would you want that on your conscience? I doubt it, so buckle up  your pet! You’ll be keeping it safe, yourself safe, and everyone around you safe as well. To get started on your mission to keep your pet safe in the car, read this article and then shop around to see which carrier, barrier, or restraint would work best for your dog!

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Dogs should *NEVER* be in the driver’s seat either, even if they’re on your lap!

 

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Mary Yokubaitis June 8, 2016, 7:49 am

    What about safety for Our Felines?

    • VetDepot June 8, 2016, 10:01 am

      Hey Mary, I just included dogs because they seem to be the more commonly transported animal that is left to roam free in the car. I don’t know anyone that takes their cats for joyrides, and when they do transport them from place to place, they use a kennel. However, I’m pretty sure that the advice in this blog post can be easily transferred to cats as well, they can probably benefit from the same restraints. Do you take your cat for joyrides in the car?

  • Stacey OBrien June 9, 2016, 5:53 am

    I use a barrier because we rescue Mastiffs and as my rescue partner says “there is nothing like driving down the highway with an 180 pound dog on your head” Haha!

  • Perfectfish September 11, 2017, 12:24 pm

    Very useful article BECAUSE a lot of people leave their dogs alone in car. What causes some dogs to start feeling unwell, adds a variety of things. In addition, this end may be very sad…

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