Thursday, January 5, 2012

Safety Tips for Driving With Dogs

Responsible drivers realize that a car warranty is not insurance against harm, and will take care to buckle up their family members and themselves before driving. But, the family dog is often overlooked. The family dog tends to be left to roam around the car, with the risks never being considered. Some dogs even ride on the lap of the driver. Pet advocates, along with safety advocates, urge against this, as unrestrained dogs can become injured during even a low-speed collision.

The best way to protect your dog and your family is to secure your dog with a quality harness and seat belt. A crate can be properly secured too, but is a second choice, as crates can have drawbacks. The dog would still be slammed against the sides of a crate during a crash. Additionally, you would need to ensure that the crate is secured within the car so that it would not break loose in the force of a collision. Crates are large and this can be difficult to do.

Safety advisers point out that having a free-roaming dog in a car is not only dangerous to the pet, but also its owners. A dog in this situation can put the people in the car at risk of injury too. Drivers have admitted to playing with pets while driving, and being distracted by pets. This can cause an unsafe driving experience. Furthermore, consider that an unrestrained dog would be flying about during a crash and could cause injury to a human. Even a small, ten pound dog would strike with 50 times its weight in a collision at 50 mph. Also, consider how your traumatized pet will respond to rescue crew members who may be trying to get to injured humans in your car. They could pose a threat keeping a person from getting the immediate medical attention they could require.

Another unsafe, but popular habit is allowing your dog to ride with his head out of the open window. This is not safe, even if the dog is restrained. Some experts say that if the dog is able to hang his head out the window while in a restraint, this may be an indication that the dog would not be efficiently protected from injury during a crash when using that restraint.

While on the subject of pets in vehicles, keep in mind that is it also unsafe for a pet to remain in a car unattended. When the weather becomes warm, this can even turn deadly. Some of the effects of being left in a hot car will not be apparent right away, and some problems with organ function might not show up for three or four days after the fact. Other health issues can occur in the moment. These include serious central nervous system problems and seizures.

So be safe when traveling with Fido this season, and be sure that the family pet is buckled up right along with the family.

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