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Protecting Your Pooch in the Car

Got the sunscreen? Check. Beach attire? Check. Luggage? Check. Directions? Check. Children? Check. You’re all set to go, but did you remember to strap your dog in?

In 2011 AAA conducted an online survey to find out how many drivers become distracted by pets while driving. Researchers found that one in five drivers admitted to taking their hands off the wheel to keep their furry friends from climbing into the front seat. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration states distractions that last more than a few seconds’ increase the risk of an accident. According to the DMV more than 200,000 car accidents occur annually in the state of Florida.  Although NHTSA does not keep a record of pet-related car accidents, 16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving, and about 448,000 passengers were injured.

From the survey drivers admitted to several distracting behaviors which include reaching to pet their furry friend (18 percent), allowing their dog to sit in their lap (17 percent), giving food or treats (13 percent) and taking a group selfie with their dog.

You might be thinking: I have the most well behaved dog why would I need to restrain them?

According to AAA 42 percent of respondents, stated they do not use a pet restraint because their dog is calm and they do not think he/she needs a restraint. In the case of a sudden stop or a car crash it doesn’t make a difference whether a dog is active or calm because they could become a projectile.

Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, an AAA National Traffic Safety Programs manager states the importance of keeping your Fido restrained.

“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure” Huebner-Davidson said. “Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path.”

An important thing to remember is that seat belts and air bags are designed to protect people not dogs. Several companies including Kurgo offer a variety of safety products for keeping your pooch comfortable including a backseat barrier, a seatbelt tether, and a booster seat which allows small dogs to be able to view the road.

Tips for keeping your pet safe:

  1. If you use a seat belt, be sure to put your dog in the backseat. When riding in the front, dogs can be injured or even killed if you have an accident and an airbag deploys.
  2. Don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window because flying objects could injure your pet.
  3. To prevent from injuries please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.

How to keep dogs calm during long rides:

  1. For dogs that howl and shriek non-stop try to make a stop at a dog park, hiking trail, or to a dog friendly beach.
  2. If your pup tends to suffer from carsickness see a veterinarian, as they might be able to offer medications to relieve your courageous canine.
  3. Bring their favorite toy, water, and favorite snacks.

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