Like children, dogs belong in the backseat, strapped in for every ride. Whether it's a trip to the vet or a family vacation, here are five ways to keep your furry friend safely by your side:
- Buckle in your dog's carrier. Don't just set it on the seat. You also can use a harness (never a collar) that attaches to your car's rear seat belt. For miniature breeds, a booster seat improves the harness's effectiveness. As tough as it is, try to resist those puppy dog eyes begging to ride unrestrained. It can create a dangerous situation for both of you. In a 30-mph crash, a 60-pound dog can slam into the dashboard (or you) with 2,700 pounds of force.
- Remember the backseat is best. Your pet faces the same injury dangers from front airbags as a small child. If you're using a harness instead of a carrier, the backseat is a must.
- Roll up the windows. When your dog's head is outside the car, it can suffer injuries from flying road debris (even insects can seriously hurt a dog's eyes). They also can develop respiratory trouble from having cold air forced into their lungs.
- Don't transport dogs in pickup beds. While most state laws allow it, provided you crate or harness the dog, it's still a bad idea. In a serious crash, even a crated dog has minimal protection.
- Talk to your vet. Make sure vaccinations are up to date and, if your dog becomes anxious in cars, your vet may be able to prescribe a mild sedative to make the trip easier for your pet.