By Jessica Remitz
As you plan your road trips this summer, be sure to consider your pet’s car safety before pulling out of the driveway. With states like Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois, and Maine banning motorists from driving with their pets in their laps and New Jersey debating a law that would require pets to wear seatbelts, now’s the time to investigate proper car restraints. Here are some options for your cat or dog.
When pets are in car accidents, they often suffer multiple injuries, including broken bones, ruptured lungs, and severe trauma as a result of not being restrained properly, said Ann E. Hohenhaus, DVM, ACVIM (oncology & small animal internal medicine) at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Unrestrained pets can also injure themselves trying to jump out of or down from open windows as the car is moving.
Help prevent your dog from moving around your vehicle freely with a step-in harness like the Ruff Rider Cainine Vehicle Restraint. It is designed to work both in and out of the car and will fit dogs from 6 to 150 pounds. Make sure to measure your pet’s chest and neck to ensure proper sizing before ordering any type of travel harness to be sure the product protects your pet the way it is designed.
Tested for small dogs up to 25 pounds, the Doggie Seatbelt attaches to any dog harness and can easily be moved from one car to another. You can also attach the seatbelt to your cat’s harness to protect it on long car rides outside of its crate. Look for well-made products that are designed to fit your dog properly to make sure the restraint does its job properly.
Having a properly restrained pet can also prevent distracted driving, Hohenhaus said, which can lead to car accidents. A recent study has found that, similar to texting while driving, having pets in the car can prevent drivers from keeping their eyes on the road at all times and can lead to a crash.
A seatbelt and harness system that uses carabiners to attach to the webbing of your car’s seatbelt and your pet’s harness, the Bergan Auto Dog Harness offers a secure fit and meets the V9DT safety durability test. It fits dogs from 10 to 150 pounds and has a padded chest area to keep your pup comfortable and safe.
While there are certain safety tests done on car restraints for pets, Hohenhaus said that unlike seatbelts and car seats for people, there are currently no government standards or tests in place for car restraints for pets.
Keep your pet safely in the backseat of your car (even if you’re stopped short) with this Kurgo Pet Travel Back Seat Barrier. The partition, which fits most vehicles, fastens between the front and passenger seat and prevents your dog or cat from making their way into the front seat as you drive.
Even if your cat or small dog is in a carrier, they could easily make their way into the front seat in the event of an accident, and installing a back seat or cargo barrier will help prevent your animal from being a projectile that could injure you as much as itself if the car crashes, Dr. Hohenhaus said.
Let your dog sit freely on her own with the EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Dog Car Restraint that clicks right into your car’s seatbelt buckle. Secure the opposite end of the restraint to your dog’s harness or collar and adjust it to fit the size of your dog and the amount of movement you’d like her to have.
With a zip line system that attaches to your car’s cargo hooks, the Kurgo Pet Travel Canine Leash and Zip Line Combo provides security for your pup while allowing her to move around your back seat comfortably. Secure the zip line to the interior of your vehicle and clip the leash, which can be used as a walking leash once you reach your destination, to your dog’s collar or harness.
Although it may be a pain to take your dog in and out of its restraint as you make pit stops, pets should not be left alone in cars under any condition — particularly in warm weather. Dr. Hohenhaus said more pets die in hot vehicles than in car accidents, so it’s important to keep them on a leash and with you at every rest stop along the way.
Perfect for small dogs up to 20 pounds or cats of the same size, the Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier attaches to any car seat belt during your ride and becomes a pet carrier once you’ve reached your destination. Attach your pet’s harness or collar to the carrier’s interior tether for additional security and safety as you drive.
Make sure that your pet’s carrier is tethered to the vehicle at all times while driving to prevent the carrier from moving or being thrown forward into the front seat, Hohenhaus said.
Take a look at the top ten most pet-friendly cars here.
Give your dog or cat a better view without endangering themselves with the K&H Bucket Booster Pet Car Seat. Snap your pet’s collar or harness to the clip inside the seat, which can fit in either the front or back seat of your car, and give them a little heat on cold days with a 12-volt heater that plugs into any standard car outlet. With two sizes to choose from, be sure to look at the dimensions of the seat in comparison to the size of your pet.
Most people love their pets as they do their own children, and they should treat them the same way they would a child when it comes to car safety, Dr. Hohenhaus said.
The Good Pet Stuff adjustable booster seat comes equipped with harness straps to keep your cat or dog secure. With folding legs that range from 10 to 14 inches in height, a plush seat, and reinforced plastic for additional security, you can adjust the seat to fit the needs of your pet while keeping him comfortable and safe.
Another product designed to keep your pup or cat securely in the backseat, the Bergan Car Pet Travel Barrier has both upper and lower vents to promote healthy air circulation and adjusts to fit between the front and passenger seat of most cars. Cars with air conditioning vents in the back seat will also help to keep your pet cool and comfortable, Dr. Hohenhaus said.