You wear a seat belt when riding in a car because you know it will help protect you if you get in an accident, and your pets deserve to be just as safe as the rest of the family when they’re traveling with you. You don’t just put your pets at risk by letting them ride loose in the car, but yourself and your other human passengers as well, because an unrestrained pet can become a projectile in the event of an accident.
Safe Options for Restraining Pets in Cars
A carrier is the best option for keeping your cat or small dog safely contained when traveling. While it might seem logical to buckle your pet’s carrier with a seat belt for added security, the seat belt can actually crush the carrier if you get in an accident. For your pet’s safety, put the carrier on the floor of the car behind the front passenger or driver seat. (The only exception to this would be if your carrier is one of the few brands that are designed to be used with a seat belt and has crash test results to prove structural integrity.)
A travel safety harness is ideal for securing a medium or large dogs. Look for a harness that has been successfully crash-tested and secure your dog in the harness directly with the seat belt in the rear passenger seat. Never allow your dog to ride in the front seat, and never use an extension tether, zip line, or other add-on device with the harness as this negates crash protection.
If you have a larger dog and a big enough vehicle, a crate can be useful for safely confining your dog while traveling. For crash protection, the crate should be secured with a strength-rated anchor strap system in the cargo area of the vehicle.
Only a handful of carriers, harnesses, and crates have actually been crash-tested, and fewer still perform well in those crash tests. The Center for Pet Safety has conducted rigorous, independent crash testing on a number of travel carriers, harnesses, and crates. The following products have performed well in their crash testing:
- The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock (for pets 15 lbs. and under)
- The PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX –Latch Connection (for pets 22 lbs. and under)
- The Sleepypod Clickit Sport Harness (for dogs 16 – 90 lbs.)
In addition to keeping you and your pets safe if an accident occurs, properly securing your pets while you travel helps prevent accidents by cutting down on driver distraction from pets, and prevents pets from escaping and getting lost when a car door or window is opened.
Your family is counting on you to ensure that everyone arrives at your destination safely together, so make sure to properly secure every family member, including the furry ones!