Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Driving in Cars with Animals | Safe Vehicle Restraints for Pets

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In Minnesota, it’s “Click It or Ticket,” so we know to buckle up as soon as we get into the car. We also know that our car has seatbelts and airbags to keep us safe. But how can we keep our pets safe in the car?

No Loose Pets in the Car

First off, never, ever let an animal go loose in your car. For cats, use a carrier that is the right size for your cat. For small animals, use a transportable cage or a small carrier. If you are rescuing an animal such as an injured bird or baby raccoon, use a carrier or cage to transport the animal to an emergency clinic or wildlife rescue rehabilitation center. Many people put a wild animal in a cardboard box, and they just use the four flaps to close the box. The scared, confused animal will try to get out. If that animal gets out, you risk being injured or getting into a car accident.

What about dogs–especially large dogs? They tend to lie down in the backseat or sit in the passenger seat. This means a loose, unsecured animal is in your car. Is this safe? NO! You need to be buckled for a reason. Same goes for your dog. You wouldn’t let your baby just lie down in the backseat, so don’t let your pet!

If you’re not convinced, let’s think about a few scenarios…
• You slam on the brakes.
• You get in a car accident.
• Your pet crashes into the dashboard, the back of the front seats, or even worse: through the windshield.
• Your pet might stick his/her head out the window and get hit.
• A paw could accidentally open the window further and your dog might jump out.
• A paw could accidently close the window while your dog’s  head is sticking out.
• Your dog might distract you by sitting in your lap, licking your face, or brushing up against you.
• Your dog might jump down to where the brake and gas pedals are.

None of these scenarios end well if your pet isn’t properly restrained.

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How you can restrain your dog when going for a car ride:

  • Traveling Kennel or Carrier: This is pretty basic. Just make sure your pet has room to be comfortable in the kennel or carrier. The only downside is that a kennel or carrier could move and fall off a seat while the car is in motion. For that reason, it’s best to loop the seatbelt through the back of the carrier or a handle on the top.
  • Box Car Seat: Invest in a car seat for your dog that clips into the seatbelt or is fastened around a seat. This will keep the container from bouncing around or falling off the seat, and keeps your dog safe.
  • Harness: Make sure you get a harness that fits your pet correctly and has a way to clip into the seatbelt.
  • Seat Saver: This item connects to the back of the heads of the captain seats and to the heads of the backseat to create a dog hammock in your car! It keeps your pet content in the back of the car and safe from moving around.

Use Center For Pet Safety‘s guide to help select the safest vehicle restraint for your pet. This non-profit research and consumer advocacy organization looks at pet product safety. They’ve even released crash test results of car pet seats as well as seatbelts. View the crash test videos here. View the products that Center For Pet Safety DOES recommend here.

Go invest in something that will keep your furry family member SAFE! No matter what you choose, make sure it’s the right size and fit for your pet.

Janine Hagen

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