Riding in Cars with Dogs

Riding in Cars with DogsIt's no secret that more and more car insurance companies are including pet coverage or a pet endorsement, in case your pet is injured or killed in a traffic accident where you are not at fault, but dogs can be injured whenever they're in a car or truck, not just when the vehicle crashes. How do you keep your pet safe on the road? Here's some advice.

Truck Tricks
It's no secret that dogs love to ride in pickup trucks, but estimates say that there are more than 10,000 canine deaths caused by falling from truck beds every year. Whether it's a sharp turn, a quick swerve, or a bump in the road, the end result is a dog being thrown out of the truck and onto the ground. As well, dogs often jump out of moving trucks, either because they're over-stimulated or because the bed gets too hot for their paws.

Research done by the Humane Society of the United States says that there is no such thing as a leash or harness that will keep a dog safe in the back of a moving truck. In fact, tying your dog in the truck bed is likely to cause strangulation. Instead, have your dog ride (ideally in a carrier) in the back seat of your crew or extended cab, or buy a crate designed to be tied into a truck bed, and keep the dog in the crate and the crate securely fastened.

strong>Keep the Dog Away from the Window
Dogs love the wind in their faces as much as people do, but since they don't wear sunglasses, there's a real risk of an injury from flying debris or insects hitting their eyes or being inhaled. Even worse, if your dog accidently steps on the electric window control, they could strangle themselves. Either keep the windows cracked open and the controls locked, keep them closed completely (and the controls locked), or restrain your animal.

Fasten that Safety Belt
Even dogs need a safety belt or some kind of restraint when they're traveling in a car. Pet barriers merely keep your animal out of the back seat. They don't actually provide protection. The best options are to keep your dog safely confined in a travel crate (large enough for the dog to sit, lie down, and turn around) with a secure door and latch. Most dogs are much happier if you line the bottom with something soft. Also important is to secure the carrier to the car.

If a carrier isn't your thing - or your dog won't settle - another option is a canine safety harness. Some of these are just chest harnesses that fasten to the existing seatbelts, allowing the dog to sit, stand, and lie down but not escape, and others are more like car seats and provide the added benefit of boosting little dogs high enough to see out the window.

Whatever method of restraint you end up using inside the car, always be sure to snap a leash onto your dog before you let it out of the vehicle, or get out yourself. As a dog owner, you've accepted the responsibility for the life of your pet. The least you can do is be certain your dog is safe when riding in the car with you.

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