Car Safety for Your Pet

Although they can’t really tell us, we’re pretty sure that for dogs nothing compares to feeling of  sticking your head out of the car window and letting the wind blow your ears back and whip your tongue across your face. And while it’s adorable to see when you pass someone with their faithful companion hanging out the window, you gotta wonder, “Is that safe?”

Pet Safety on the Move

Pets are like furry kids. You love them and want to keep them safe. Do you let your child roam around a moving vehicle? Of course not! You probably don’t even need laws to tell you that the safest place for your child is strapped in the backseat (and facing rearwards if under the age of 2). So why let your pet roam around a moving vehicle?

In most states, there are few regulations about pet restraints in cars. And that’s unfortunate for both you and your pet. A 2011 AAA survey showed that more than half of drivers with an unrestrained dog as a passenger were distracted—using a hand or arm to keep the dog out of the front seat, trying to keep the animal from moving when they applied the brakes or even taking pictures of their pooches. Distracted driving puts you and your pet at risk.

So to keep your fuzzy babies safe on the open road, you need to limit their movement with in the vehicle. There are a couple ways to do this:

  1. Seatbelt harness
Seatbelts don’t work so well for critters without laps, but harnesses that strap or tether around the shoulder and lap belts can keep your dog restrained to one seat in the car. Major pet stores carry a variety of sizes, and many of them are comfort-padded on the chest area to keep the harness from cutting or bruising in the event of a sudden stop.
  1. Doggie dividers

Dividers allow your pet some mobility in the car, but they keep your dog from entering the front seat where they are a distraction from you. While this is better than no restraint, doggie dividers don’t offer the same restraint in the event of an accident, so your dog may still be thrown against the seats or windows during a collision.

 

Pet Safety in the Sun

Cars can be dangerous places for pets even when they’re not moving. Baking in the New Mexico sun, interior car temperatures rise quickly. 78°F and sunny outside 90°F inside your car, and that’s if you parked in the shade. Even outside temperatures in the 60s can make your car’s interior temperature dangerous to your animals.

So, even though you love having your four-legged friends with you on the road, if your errands require leaving them in the car, even for short periods of time, it’s really best that you leave them at home. If you must take your pets with you to places that require leaving them alone in the car, make sure to take these precautions:

 

  • Park in the shade to avoid direct sun exposure
  • Put up reflective window sun shades
  • Leave the windows open a few inches to allow some fresh air to circulate
  • Leave some water for your pet to drink

 

Do be warned, though, Albuquerque is a pet-friendly city—concerned citizens are even looking out for the health and safety of your pets. So it’s not uncommon for someone to report a car with animals left inside, which may result in a citation and fine.

When your pet rides with you, you have precious cargo. Keep everyone in the car safe by restraining your furry friends and protecting them from the heat.