Buckle up, pups

Becky is buckled in to a vest harness
Photo Credit: Erin Bend

Many Canadians are proud pet parents, but are they buckling up their furry kids?

Dr. Erika Anseeuw of the Winnipeg Humane Society says it is important to keep your pet safely restrained for the safety of the animal and to keep the driver’s focus on the road.

Unsafe methods of canine transport are using restraints attached to the collar and riding loose in the back of a pick-up. Dogs shouldn’t ride in the front seat either – like children they could be crushed by an inflated airbag.

“One of my dogs hit the dashboard once,” remembers local pet store manager Diane Mitchell. Now she always secures her three dogs, two of them in crates and one in a vest harness.

Vest harnesses are thick across the dog's chest and shoulders to spread out pressure. There is a loop on the back that is easy to slide a seatbelt through.

Once buckled in a dog can sit, stand or lie down comfortably but not move around. Vest harnesses fit dogs from five to 160 pounds, range in price from $32-$44 and are available in most pet stores.

Watch a video showing some pet restraint methods and check out more car pet tips

Mitchell recommends putting larger dogs in kennels, to prevent injury to passengers. Crates range in price from $30 - $200 depending on size and brand.

“Most dog crates are good enough quality,” says Anseeuw. “Their purpose is to keep the animal from becoming a projectile.”

Wire crates are bad because they are collapsible. In a bad wreck they will not keep your dog safe.

Crates also need to be secured in your vehicle. Larger ones have holes to string bungee cords through; bungee cords can also be used to secure smaller kennels through their handles. Smaller kennels can also be secured in the back seat with a seat belt.

Mitchell's advice for getting your dog used to this new safe transportation situation is simple. “Put ‘em in crate, let ‘em whine. Turn the music up.”

Dog Vehicle Barriers are an effective safety measure when they come installed in your vehicle by the manufacturer or are installed at a dealership. The one size fits all barriers available at pet stores do not fit most vehicles securely. But they have no guarantee of working.

You can insure your dog for accidents. Policies from large pet insurance companies like Petsecure cover accidents, dental and vet bills for sick dogs.

A policy with $5000 accident coverage on Becky, my French bulldog, would cost $59 a month. It would cost another $59 to insure her sister Veronica.


Jeff Betts » Mar 3rd 2010, 22:56

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I had no idea there were seatbelts for dogs....most of the small dogs I see in cars appear to be driving, or at least steering, unrestrained on their owner's lap.

One small typo, perhaps?...shouldn't the dogs be named Betty and Veronica? ;)

Nice article, crisply written.

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Erin Bend of Red River College

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • User since Oct 27th 2009, 09:40