Traveling with your dog may seem as simple as opening the car door and letting your pooch jump right in. However driving with an unsecured dog, even one that is well-trained can be dangerous, even deadly for you, your pet, other drivers on the road, and even your car itself. Here are just some of the many dangers you face every time you get behind the wheel and your dog is not safely restrained:
The Many Dangers of Driving With an Unsecured Dog
- High risk for an accident: With a dog in your car that is free to do whatever it feels or wants the odds of you having an accident are much higher. Many dogs naturally get excited when they are in the car, and tend to move around and even jump from front to back or back to front while you are driving. Some dogs jump right onto their owners’ laps. Trying to keep your eyes on the road while also having to keep an eye on your dog is a huge distraction and one which puts you at a much higher risk of having an accident because when you are worrying about what your dog is doing you can’t pay attention to the road.
- High risk of injury: If you do have an accident, or even stop short and your dog is unsecured, it will go flying. Not only could this end up injuring you but severely injuring your dog or worse.
- Falling out is a real possibility: While dogs love to stick their heads out of the window when driving and it’s funny to watch all it takes is your dog leaning out a little too far, a short stop, or seeing a cat or another animal for your dog to end up jumping or even falling out of your car. Falling out at high speed onto a busy roadway usually ends only one way and it’s not a good one. Not only can this result in the death or serious injury of your dog but can also cause you to have a serious accident in trying to stop your dog from doing so.
- Damage to the interior of your car: Excited dogs, dogs with a high prey-drive, or dogs that are afraid will scratch windows, doors, and the seats inside of your car if they see other animals, want to get out, or feel anxious. This is not to mention chewing on anything they find interesting or delicious in your car. This can lead to some expensive repairs and quickly cost you much more than you’d ever realize.
A Dog Car Seat is an Easy Solution
A dog car seat provides the easiest solution to all of the problems above and more. They are similar to a child’s car seat in that they keep your pet sitting in a comfortable position yet restrained for safety. It keeps your dog from moving around in the car so you can concentrate on what you should, paying attention to the road. While there are a few different types most typically look like a very well cushioned box. To make sure your dog stays in its seat and does not fall or fly out in an accident or short stop, they come with a small adjustable leash which on one end is attaches to your dogs harness or collar and the other end is securely attached to the dog seat itself. This leash is sometimes referred to by the manufacturer as a tether or a safety leash. And of course this leash keeps your dog from getting out of his seat and causing damage or just being annoying as well. With your mind at ease, knowing that your dog is not only safe but not getting into anything he shouldn’t, you can enjoy the ride stress free.
Other than safety there are some other great reasons to own dog car seat as well. Most dog seats are actually raised so that they enable your dog to see out of the window. This allows your dog to be safe in his seat while still enjoying all of the sights passing by which drastically reduces stress. Being able to see out the window also has been proven to reduce car sickness in dogs so not only will your dog physically feel much better when riding in one but you won’t be stuck with the messy results of him being sick in your car.
An added benefit is that like dog beds, dog car seats tend to trap the vast majority of your pets hair, which means less dog hair on your seats and on your clothes and as most dog owners know some dog hair depending on the breed and type of hair can be notoriously hard to get out of your car. And of course they are so comfortable that they can function as dog beds allowing your pet to sleep through the ride if they feel like it.
Dog Car Seat Sizes
Dog car seats are really made and designed for small dog breeds as well as some medium sized dogs(ones on the smaller side). While they do come in sizes from small to large, and a small dog car seat does fit a small dog that does not mean that a large size seat can accommodate a large dog. Large dog seats can usually only handle a dog of around 25-30 pounds depending on the manufacturer. If your dog is larger than that, it is probably a better idea to consider a dog car seat belt or you might be able to use a bench booster seat. There are no industry standard sizes for these types of seats so the sizes are described by their dimensions in inches or centimeters, and by the weight of the dog that the seat can safely hold and these will be different depending on the manufacturer.
Types of Dog Car Seats
While dog car seats do look very similar there are actually a few different varieties and options available such as:
Dog Car Booster Seats
These are your standard dog car seats and the ones most often seen. They typically look like a well cushioned and padded box, but one that is deep enough to keep your dog safely tethered inside. Because they include a fluffy pillow for your dog to rest or sit on the dog is able to relax in a raised up position like with a child’s booster seat. This enables your dog to see just as much of what’s going on if not more than they would if they were not restrained. This type of dog car seats are usually square or rectangular in shape, the rectangular variety allowing more room for your dog to lie down and sleep. While most of these seats attach to your seat belt or base of the seat, some attach to the headrest and allow your dog an extra high bird’s eye view of what’s going on both inside and outside of the car.
Bench Booster Seats
Bench booster seats are a non-enclosed bench style padded seat that is raised allowing your dog to see out the window. While they are not enclosed they still have a tether to keep your dog safely restrained. They are typically available in half-bench (the size of one car seat) or full bench (the size of the full back seat area of a car). The full bench size really is the only dog car seat option which can accommodate larger dogs, usually up to around 70 pounds or so.
Console dog car seats are rectangular in shape so that they can fit comfortably on your car’s console. These let your dog stay literally right next to you as you are driving, but safely out of your way. They are made for smaller dogs up to around 15 pounds. Console dog seats are perfect for nervous or fearful dogs because the close proximity to their owner makes them feel safe and relaxed. Many dogs love this type of seat because not only are they close to their owner but if there is a passenger the dog gets to sit right in-between and close to both. Because they are rectangular and set down with the long way parallel to the driver they allow your dog to lie down while still seeing all the action.
Another option and one that has a double function are dog car seat carriers. They serve as a car seat and also as a carrier for your small dog. Usually they are made to handle up to a 15-20 pound dog; you probably wouldn’t want to carry around one heavier than that anyway. Your dog can sit inside and is attached to a tether for safety just like with a normal booster seat. Many models have multiple pouches and compartments so you can conveniently bring your dogs favorite toys, treats, or supplies along for the ride and to wherever you are going. To convert them to a carry bag all you have to do is attach the shoulder strap. Depending on the model they will either have a mesh top, sides, or both for easy ventilation. While some models are placed directly on the seat, others are attached to the headrest. Unlike other types of dog car seats many of these also fold flat down for easy storage. There are even some that you can wear like a backpack, making it easier to carry your pet.
The 3 Most Important Things to Look For in a Quality Dog Car Seat
1) It must fit your dog. The most important thing you need to look for when shopping is that the seat can handle the weight of your dog. Always check the description and details from the manufacturer to make sure that the particular seat you are considering can fit the weight of your dog.
2) It must fit your car. Not all cars are the same and that means that you must check not only the size and of the dog car seat but also the size of the actual seat in your car to make sure the dog car seat can fit safely. Just as important is where the dog car seat will attach to your actual seat. Some attach to the seat belt while others attach the headrest, and others attach to both of these. Always make sure your car can accommodate the dog seat.
3) It must be easy to wash. One thing that many dog owners often forget about is making sure the dog car seat they purchase is one which can be easily cleaned. The pillows and outer coverings regardless of what material they are made from should be easily removable and washable so that they can be simply put in the washing machine keeping your car free of pet hair and smelling fresh.
Other Traveling Accessories to Use With Your Dog Car Seat
There are many other accessories for the dog owner to use which not only protect your dog but your car as well. 2 of these accessories however are by far the most popular. They are dog car seat covers and car harnesses.
Dog Car Seat Covers
Many dog owners love to take their dog everywhere but don’t want to deal with any dog hair, drool, or dirty paw prints on their seats while they are trying to put their dog into their car seat. A dog seat car cover is any easy way to keep your car seat in pristine condition. Just place it down on your car seat and then place your dog car seat over it and you will virtually eliminate any possible mess.
When using a dog car seat your dog is restrained in its seat because it is connected to the seat’s tether. Most small dog breeds have very small and fragile necks, this means its a much safer and smarter idea to attach your the seat’s tether to a harness as opposed your dogs collar. If your dog is attached by its collar and there is and accident there is a chance your dog could sustain and injury to its neck. To eliminate this risk many dog owners choose to use their dog seat with a car harness. A car harness is made to be soft and comfortable for your dog but strong enough to restrain your dog .
Your Other Safety Option: A Dog Car Seat Belt
If a medium or large size dog a dog car seat is a better option for you. They are strong enough to restrain the largest of dogs and are very inexpensive. They consist of a tether which on one side clips onto your dogs collar or harness and on the other end clips into your safety belt buckle. Most dog owners who purchase one also buy a car harness to attach it to and often a dog car seat cover to keep their big dog from damaging the upholstery of their car.
Dog Car Seat Tips:
-A car harness or at least standard harness is much safer to attach a tether or dog seat belt to than a collar.
-Buying 1 large seat could be the cheapest option if you have more than one small dog. Most large dog car seats have multiple tethers so you can easily attach more than one dog.
-Purchasing a dog seat that is a size or two larger than the size of your dog is a great way to give your dog extra space to lie down.
-To save time and make sure their pet is always protected some owners buy multiple dog car seats for multiple cars. Doing this guarantees there will always be a comfy safe place for your dog to sit.
-A dog car seat can actually compliment the interior of your car. Take your time and choose a seat that matches the upholstery or goes well.
-Bringing a few of your pooch’s favorite toys along for them to sit or play with in their seat is an excellent way to keep your dog happy and relaxed in its seat.
-If you live somewhere with a very hot climate make sure you get a seat that is not made from a material that will be too hot for your dog. For example wool might be perfect for keeping your dog warm and snug on a winter’s day but might easily be too warm for a dog living in a place with year-round high temperatures.
-If the model you are looking at does not have a tether you should definitely purchase a dog car seat belt and safety harness.
-Some dogs love their seats so much that they want to be in them all the time. Many owners also use their dog car seat as a dog bed inside as well.
-If your dog is undergoing a dog flea treatment it’s always a good idea to make sure your seat is flea free by washing it in hot water weekly or giving it a few sprays from a quality flea and tick spray.
-Dog car seats are not only for dogs, you can also use your dog car seat for your cat.
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