RIDING IN CARS WITH DOGS

HEAT   Think about the overwhelming heat you feel when you first get in your car after it has been parked in the sun? No matter how many times we hear a warning not to leave our dogs in the car during the summer, police are still breaking into them and veterinary emergency rooms are filled with dogs that are left in the car for “just a few minutes” while their human families are shopping or banking.

When the outside temperature is in the low 80’s, it only takes a few minutes for the temperature inside an automobile to become 110 or more; even with the windows slightly open. Not too long after that, your dog will suffer from heatstroke. If a car is parked in the sun, the temperature inside can rise 30 degrees per minute obviously not taking more than just a few minutes to become a deadly situation.

The family dog is not forgotten…he is purposely and with intent left in the car. So if you’re taking your dog with you on a hot day to go shopping, do the dog a huge favor and leave him home where it is cooler and not life-threatening. It’s the kindest thing you can do.

Brachycephalic dogs, which are dogs with indented foreheads and short snouts like Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Pugs, as well as puppies, older dogs, heavy-coated or overweight dogs or dogs with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, should be given extra consideration.

SECURITY   Something I cannot get used to seeing is dogs riding in the back of pick-up trucks. This is so dangerous that it has become illegal in many states. Your dog may not attempt to jump out of the truck but any short stop might throw him into traffic. If he is tethered, he will still sustain injuries or possibly be strangled. If your dog is crated in the back of a pick-up, the crate needs to be secured so that it does not slide around or get thrown from the bed of the truck.

The cargo area of an SUV is meant for packages, groceries, supplies, etc. It is not the safest place in your vehicle. If your SUV is rear-ended, that is not where you would want your dog to be!  It’s not where I would want my dog to be!  However, when a dog is placed in a crate, in an SUV, even if steps are taken to secure the crate, it most likely winds up being in the cargo area as close to the hatch as possible. I understand that this is done for easier access and exiting. But this is increasing the danger of your dog being severely hurt during a crash. The further from the hatch, the better.

I see many dogs left unfettered in the cargo area. This is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! It’s dangerous not only for your dog but for the driver and passengers as any sudden stop will cause the dog to go flying through the passenger area. Additionally, it is dangerous for a dog to not be secured safely in any part of any vehicle.

A travel harness is secure, comfortable, easy to use, and may save your dog’s life in an accident.  The car harness is worn like any other harness but is stronger and more padded. It is made so that your vehicle seat belt can be threaded through the back of the harness given you dog some wiggle room to move around or lie down. However, When your car stops suddenly, the car seatbelt will lock in place and prevent your dog from being thrown about the vehicle.  I have recently been asked about a restraining device that stretches and is used to tether a dog in a vehicle, given the dog more freedom to move about. This goes against the entire principle and purpose of using a seatbelt or restraint for safety. What good would your seatbelt do if it stretched and allowed you to thrust forward in a crash?

I know you love your dog, so please think about his safety before you both go cruising.