We see it all the time in movies, TV shows and commercials—a dog happily sticking his head out the window, enjoying the wind in his fur. It's fun to have your pet in the car with you. So what's the harm in letting them sit in our laps or run around in the back seat? It turns out it can cause a lot of harm.
Why It's Important to Restrain Your Pet
According to a study done by Kurgo Pet Products and AAA, an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of force. That's not a good thing for your pet, or you and your passengers.
Not only is it dangerous for your pet to be free during a collision, it also can contribute to the cause of the accident. The study above found that 65 percent of dog owners surveyed admitted to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog. These activities include things like petting their dog, restricting their dog's movement when braking, keeping the dog from climbing into the front seat, giving treats to their dog or taking a photo of their dog. Looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed, and 424,000 people were injured, in crashes involving distracted drivers. Wearing a seatbelt is important for humans, and it's important for our furry family members as well.
Best Ways to Restrain Your Pet
So what is the best way to restrain your pet during a car trip? Cats should be in carriers that can be tethered to the seat in some way, and dogs should be in crates, carriers or harnesses that can also be fastened to the seat. Just like children, they should never be in the front seat as the impact from the airbag could be fatal. There are tons of products on the market, but safety testing for pet-restraint systems is not up to the same standard as seat-belt or child-seat testing. Still, some products perform better than others in crash testing.
These products have all been named the top-performing pet restraints by the Center for Pet Safety and are the only ones to pass their crash tests. It's certainly not cheap to ensure your pet's safety in the car, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet will be unharmed if you're in an accident is definitely worth the price.