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How to Keep your Dog and Cat Safe During Car Travel

Updated on July 9, 2009

Safety first! Have a safe trip!

Just as parents work hard to ensure they keep their children safe in a car, pet owners should be concerned about keeping their pets safe in a moving vehicle. The principle is basically the same: the risk of injuring your pet or yourself especially when driving at high speeds. If you are planning to hit the road this summer as many other vacationers, or if you are simply driving your pooch to the groomer, make sure to keep your safety and the safety of your pet in consideration. An ounce of prevention is surely worth a pound of cure!

So what can happen if I drive my dog or cat in my car?

Well, there can be various scenarios, but none of them are really pleasant. Here are some examples:

1) This scenario thankfully was more common years ago than today. It involves the typical owner driving an unrestrained cat in a car. The cat basically acts well, sitting on the seat and sort of relaxing. However, this is a faux state of mind, indeed as the car starts moving the cat starts panicking. The owner starts to panic as he tries to calm the cat. In a split second the cat is bouncing around every where, then for a few seconds the owner cannot figure out where the cat went. He look behind and under seat next to him. Next thing he knows he is speeding through an intersection, he tries to pull at the brakes but the cat is right between his feet and the pedal. He ends up crashing and the rest is part of history. Thankfully, today more and more cat owners use carriers to transport their cats from point A to point B.

2) This case involves a dog, again left unrestrained in the back seat area. The owner is driving the dog to the dog park on a beautiful Sunday morning. Suddenly, on the highway a motorcycle passes and cuts off the driver. The driver pulls on the brakes and since he did so in such a quick matter and so abruptly his dog goes flying through the window.

3) Perhaps one of the most common scenarios of a pet owner driving a car occurs simply because the pet creates the perfect environment for distraction. Owners may turn around continuously to check on their pet, they may be trying to stop him or her from barking or simply trying to prevent the dog from getting too close. his of course translates into keeping the eyes off the road which equals to one of the biggest triggers of car accidents:distraction.

4) In this case, the pooch is left in the back seat, unrestrained as usual. The dog is happily hopping from one window to other, having trouble deciding on which window to use. Finally the dog decides to use one window. The owner happy that he has settled, opens up the window so he can get some fresh air. The dog gets excited and either a) falls out of the window b) paws at the window continuously until he accidentally touches the button which causes the window to close on his head or c) simply sticks his head out the window but gets debris in his eyes causing his owner to have a vet examine them.

As seen, there are several chances of injury however, on a lighter note, the great thing ist that there are also various safety measure cautious owners may resort to.


Small dogs and cats can be easily placed into a carrier for owner's piece of mind and even for the pet's piece of mind, since most pets once placed into a small container appear to relax more.

-Dog Seat-belts

Yes, dogs can wear seat belts too! Think about how comfortable you can drive now knowing that your dog is safely secured and no longer pacing from one window to the other or trying to get on your lap. The path towards calmer road trips is closer than thought!

-Dog Car Seats

Car seats are not only for infants anymore. Many car seats for dogs today come also equipped with removable dog food bowls, water bowls and storage sections.

Highland 2004500 Black Universal Pet Barrier
Highland 2004500 Black Universal Pet Barrier

Universal pet barrier safely keeps your pet in the cargo area of your vehicle away from the driver and the passengers. Installs in minutes with no drilling required


Driving : Pet safety Hazards

-Don't use a collar to secure your dog in the car. Your dog may choke in case of an accident. Use a harness instead.

-Don't allow your car in the front seat. The deployment of an airbag may kill your dog on impact.

-Don't allow your dog to ride freely in the bed of a truck. It is dangerous and in some places even illegal!

-Don't let your dog hang his head out of windows. He may get debris in his eyes, get hit by flying objects or worse by a car passing too closely.

-Don't leave of course, your pet ever unattended in a car, regardless of temperature and regardless of the fact your pet is restrained or not..

As seen, there are various ways you can keep your pet and yourself safe during traveling. Carriers, car seats and seat belts can really make a difference and set the tone for a relaxed and well deserved trip that both you and your pets ultimately really deserve!

Outward Hound Kyjen  OH00679 Back Seat Hammock Dog Auto Travel Back Seat Pet Hammock Easy-Fit Seat Cover, Large, Black
Outward Hound Kyjen OH00679 Back Seat Hammock Dog Auto Travel Back Seat Pet Hammock Easy-Fit Seat Cover, Large, Black

The Back Seat Hammock gives pets a safe and comfortable ride suspended between the sturdy material. Attached easily from the front and rear seats of most automobiles

Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier for cats and dogs up to 20-pounds, Aqua
Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier for cats and dogs up to 20-pounds, Aqua

The Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat anchors firmly into any car seat by attaching the rear webbing strap to the seatbelt. A soft fleece pad and interior tether contain the pet comfortably inside. Use the rear pocket and pouch to carry your pet's favorite treats and toys. Doors on top and on the front allow easy access inside. The carrying handles provide simple portability.

Good Pet Stuff Travelin' Dog Pet Seat
Good Pet Stuff Travelin' Dog Pet Seat

Travelin' Dog Pet Seat is an automobile safety system for both dogs and cats. With its comfortable fleece-covered foam riding pad and soft-side padding, your pet will ride in comfort in its own seat.

Solvit 62296 Pet Vehicle Safety Harness, Large
Solvit 62296 Pet Vehicle Safety Harness, Large

The Solvit Pet Vehicle Safety Harness is designed with pets' safety and comfort in mind.

Solvit Waterproof Bench Seat Cover
Solvit Waterproof Bench Seat Cover

Let your pet ride in style! The Solvit Waterproof Bench Seat Cover is a great choice for protecting the back seat from dirt, dander, and 'spills'


What if Something Still Happens?

Will my insurance cover my pet's injuries?

According to Progressive, quoted ''If the accident wasn't your fault, the other driver's insurance will most likely cover your pet with its property damage liability (PD) coverage. Under most insurance policies, your pet's injuries will only be covered if you were not at fault in the accident.''

Interestingly, it appears that insurances will not cover dog''s under bodily injuries, becausee insurance companies reserve bodily injuries for humans. Dogs are instead considered ''personal property'' therefore the property daage section of insurance will take care of the injuries, of course, in most cases if it was not the owner's fault.


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    • advisor4qb profile image

      advisor4qb 8 years ago from On New Footing

      I always get so aggravated at the people who put dogs in the back of pickup trucks and don't even make sure they can't jump out!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Excellent hub lots of good points Thanks