No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from AKC Family Dog, July/August, 2005.
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Dogs love nothing more than standing up at the window of a car, looking out at the passing scenery, and feeling the wind blow through their coat. Safetyconscious dog owners, however, know that a loose dog in a car is a disaster waiting to happen. A 30 mile-per-hour collision causes unrestrained people, dogs, and objects in a vehicle to be flung about with hundreds or even thousands of pounds of force, causing injuries and even death.
Here's a look at just a few of the products that are available for your dog-traveling needs.
Buckling Max in with a regular seat belt isn't really an option. For one thing, his anatomy precludes a safe and comfortable fit. Instead, look for one of the many seat belts made just for dogs. Choose a one-piece harness with wide, padded straps that can be attached to your car's seat belt or some other sturdy anchor point.
For instance, the Ruff Rider Roadie has a tensile strength of 9,300 pounds and was designed by a veterinary orthopedic surgeon to be ergonomically correct. The harness-style seat belt attaches to your car's seat belt system and gives a dog the freedom to sit or lie down. Check out www.ruffrider.com.
And then there's the Champion Canine Seat Belt System, which has wide straps to help distribute pressure across a dog's body, a cushioned chest pad, and a swivel hook that allows dogs to move comfortably. It attaches to seat belts, tiedown hooks, and child-seat tether anchors. Check out www.canineauto.com.
For small dogs who like to look out the window, a car seat can keep them restrained while still providing a ride with a view. Most are modeled on child car seats and are built for dogs up to 25 or 30 pounds.
The Comfort Ride Pet Seat attaches to a seat belt and has a three-point restraint system that attaches to a dog's harness to keep him in the seat. The base of the seat has a storage compartment. Check out www.canineauto.com.
The Stow-Away 3-in-1 serves as a car seat, suitcase, and bed for your dog. Held in place with your car's seat belt, it elevates dogs 10 inches and has a storage compartment. Check out store.tripswithpets.com/merchant2/
One very important note: Whether you restrain your dog with a seat belt or a car seat, he's safest secured in the middle of the back seat. An air bag punching out of the dashboard at 140 miles per hour is just as dangerous to a dog as it is to a small child.
Most car seats are suited only to small dogs, and seat belts can be awkward. But a crate secured by a seat belt (run it through the handle on top of the crate) is your best bet.
What's the safest way to travel with your dog in the car? A seat belt prevents him from flying through the air and potentially hitting his head on the side of a crate during a collision, says critical care veterinarian Vicki L. Campbell, who is also an assistant professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. That said, she adds, a crate may better protect a dog from a flying object in a collision.
Whichever you choose, your dog will be safer than if he's not restrained at all.