Statistics show that 80% of dog owners travel with their dog in the car frequently and only 16% use any restraints for their dog. For those of us who take our dogs everywhere we can, it has crossed many of our minds that even in a minor fender bender our furry loved ones can be seriously injured. Even more, your dog may injure you due to lack of restraint. It is also important for those of us with small dogs to remember the danger you expose to those on the road, yourself and your dog when Fido travels in the driver’s lap. While a dog’s favorite activity is hanging their head out the window, it can be surprisingly hazardous for your pet. It is important for all of us to be well informed on how to safely travel in a car with our furry friends.
Neighboring states New Jersey and Rhode Island have made it against the law for an individual to drive with a dog in their lap. It is a hefty ticket in New Jersey ranging from $250-$1000. In Connecticut distracted driving is a finable offense but no law explicitly says that traveling with a dog in ones’ lap is against the law. An officer may ticket you based on their evaluation of the circumstances. While it may hurt your wallet, it may hurt you more in a collision. Even a dog as small as 5 pounds can inhibit a person’s ability to turn their steering wheel. That being said, if your dog hinders your driving ability for even one tenth of a second you are a danger on the road.
When it comes to traveling with your pup, the most important thing is to make sure that he or she is properly restrained. Restraints are important for many reasons, the first being that the dog can distract you. The second is that your pet can become a dangerous flying object during a collision that can injure you or themselves. If a car is traveling 50 MPH and gets into an accident a dog as small as 10 pounds can become a dangerous rocket which can impact you with the force of 500 pounds. It is also common for dogs traveling in a car during a collision to be propelled through the windshield when not restrained. Proper restraint is vital for the protection of your pet and you. Always use a harness type device or a walking harness with a seat belt attachment to restrain your dog as a collar can cause more damage to their spine than the accident itself.
Fido may thoroughly enjoy hanging his head out the window but there are some things you should know. Some of us may have encountered a time in which a small pebble has been propelled at our windshield like a missile leaving a large spider webbed crack. Imagine for a moment that it happens again this time its destination is your dog’s very fragile eye. This car window surfing can also damage your pooch’s respiratory system, even more so if your dog is a breed which has a short snout. This may cut a lot of fun out of your dog’s vehicular travel but it is truly not worth the cost.
It’s important to keep in mind that your dog doesn’t have the mental strength to assess the danger of a car therefore it is up to you to keep him or her equipped for the unthinkable. So next time you find yourself at the pet store pick up a seatbelt attachment for your pooch. When it comes to driving with your pet make sure you are taking the proper safety measures to keep you and your dog safe in a vehicle. If you do encounter a pet medical emergency due to an injury sustained in a car please don’t hesitate to call Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital or your local veterinarian.