Keep Your Pet Safe in the Car

keep dog safeMorristown, TN

From time to time, it may be necessary to take a pet for a ride in the car. Depending on what sort of pet this is, some are completely unfazed, such as fish (provided they stay in their bowl!), lizards, guinea pigs, etc. Others – such as dogs and cats – may have a much different reaction, whether that be delight (as it tends to be with dogs) or displeasure (as it often is with cats).

When taking a pet in a car, the primary interest should be safety, both for the pet and for the driver: after all, pets can be very distracting, between wandering around inside the car – or trying to get out of it – and making noise. The best car trip with a pet will avoid these hazards. What can be done to make sure that all two-legged and four-legged passengers are out of danger during a drive?

Windows up

Everyone has seen a dog with its head outside the window on a nice day, but while the dog may genuinely love this experience, it is dangerous. Dogs risk hitting their heads on nearby objects – like mailboxes or the mirrors of other cars – particularly if the dog’s human or another driver loses focus and slightly drifts out of the lane.

Further, there is always the danger that a dog may fall out or may attempt to jump out of a car; cats may attempt this maneuver, too. For these reasons, the windows should be rolled up or at best only slightly cracked, which will allow the dog to experience new smells and sounds but not risk injury or worse.

Pet carriers and barriers

Dogs and cats can pose a danger to everyone in the car if they start to roam around, whether because they obscure the human’s vision by attempting to get in their lap (blocking the driver’s line of sight in the process) or by jumping into the floorboard, interfering with the use of the brake (cats are notorious for this). The best way to prevent these hazards is to contain the dog or cat. This can be done with a carrier or carry box for cats and small dogs, ideally with enough room to allow the pet to turn around if needed, but not so large that they slide around. A leash and harness combined with this is the best bet.

For larger dogs, a crate may be necessary. These, too, need to be large enough for the dog to stand and turn. A blanket put over the crate may help overexcited dogs.

For dogs that will not fit in a crate, their human friends should install a pet barrier. This will keep the dog in the backseat, which is also where a carrier or crate should be kept.

Pets in the back

A pet in a carrier, crate, or behind a barrier is the safest way to carry him or her in the car. This keeps them confined to the back seat, which is far safer for them than the front seat. This is because in a collision, the airbags will deploy. Animals run the same risks from airbags as children do, so the backseat is the best place for them.

Dog seatbelt

Dogs that cannot fit into a crate can be made more secure in the back seat using a canine seatbelt. These are designed to attach to a dog’s collar or take the form of a special harness, which can work with either a seatbelt or car-seat latch system that protects the dog from sudden stops or collisions.

Avoid leaving pets in hot cars

In recent decades, more and more attention has been drawn to the dangers of leaving children or animals in a hot car. This is for good reason: the interior of cars can reach life-threatening temperatures very quickly in the summertime, even in the shade. Leaving the windows cracked is marginally helpful, but unless there is a way to leave the car on and air conditioning running, it is best to take animals in or not make any stops with them on outings.

Doing all these things may result in a much safer car ride for humans and pets alike. But for those occasions when a dog cannot be taken along, the best option may be to board him or her. In the Jefferson City area, an excellent place to do that is AllDogs Canine Care Center, which provides boarding, grooming, and Playcamp/Playcare services. To find out more, call (865) 475-2225 or email at