Driving with a pet is legal here in Virginia, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe. Cruising around with the windows open sure is fun for a dog, and yet driving with an unrestrained animal can cause an accident. Criminal charges, claims of negligence, and potential injuries to yourself, other drivers and passengers, and of course, your pet, are all good motivators for safe practices. Choosing pet safety in the car is an important facet of responsible pet ownership, and we’re here to help.
The Act of Restraint
We know that most dogs relish the chance to go cruisin’ in their owner’s rig. They are easily spotted on the road, hopping back and forth between all the windows. It’s fun and deeply satisfying for them to see and smell the world as it flashes by. Owners enjoy making their dogs happy, and the shared moments reinforce the bond between human and pet.
Unfortunately, an overexcited animal can cause an owner to drive distractedly. The only solution is to introduce and maintain pet safety in the car. The benefits of pet restraints far outweigh the risks to your pet and others.
A sudden stop or a turn taken too quickly can seriously injure an unrestrained pet in the car. Furthermore, debris in the air can harm them when sticking their heads and shoulders out of a moving vehicle.
Who Doesn’t Love Seatbelts?
Restraining your pet in the back seat should become a habit just like buckling your own seat belt.
- Start out by going for short trips together.
- Offer healthy treats and praise to reward them for trying out their new restraint.
- Lengthen your trips over a period of time, such as a month or 6 weeks. Be sure to add breaks so they can get outside and relieve themselves, as necessary.
- Always give them something to look forward to, like a walk or hike in a favorite spot.
- Be sure that they always have access to fresh, cool water to drink and loads of refreshing ventilation in the car.
Today’s Pet Restraints
You can choose between a crate, harness, or similar pet restraint like a pet car seat (for toy breeds). Most products can easily attach to the seat belt system in your car, while providing ease of movement of comfort in the back seat. Safety harnesses are typically tested for safety and security.
Installing a sturdy platform for a wire crate or plastic kennel can add to their sense of security and confidence in the car. This may be especially important for a nervous pet, or one unaccustomed to the car.
A back seat barrier inhibits a pet from climbing into the front seat, ensuring that the driver maintains complete control over the car. Also, if there’s a crash, a pet cannot be thrust forward.
Pet Safety in the Car
Please remember that the inside temperature of a parked car can skyrocket well beyond triple digits, even when it’s not scorching hot outside. A pet left alone inside a parked vehicle can become a sudden victim of heat stroke or dehydration, requiring emergency veterinary care.