These days, most of us travel about by car quite a bit and as such, we need to know that our furry friends are safe too. Long gone are the days when we used to drive our cars without wearing seatbelts now that our awareness of health and safety has grown.
The same should now be true for our dogs – for our benefit as much as for theirs. If you have an accident in your car, and your dog is not safely secured, he will to all intents and purposes become a “missile” in the cabin with you. As you stop or impact, the inertia will be transferred to him. He may, be flung against the side or the roof. Worse still, he may be flung forward at the windscreen and possibly through it. There is, of course, always the chance that he will connect with you or your passengers during the course of the accident – and a dog colliding with your head at speed is not good for either of you.
There are options to keep everybody safe and these range from the very cheap and basic, all the way through to the bespoke and pricey. Whichever you choose, please do choose SOMETHING.
Dog Guards fit behind the rear seats of your car to ensure your dog is stowed safely in the compartment behind you. The guard separates the dog from you so that should you have an accident, he is not rolling around inside the cabin where you are and therefore cannot collide with you. There are lots of adjustable ones on the market and also ones designed specifically for the model of your car.
Seatbelts for dogs work just as ours do. They clip into the seatbelt mechanism in your car in exactly the same way and place as you would put a seatbelt for a human. The belt is then attached to the dog, ideally by a harness (a harness is accepted to be safer and more healthy for your dog than attaching the belt to a collar which, in an accident, could choke your dog or damage his spine/neck)
A harness works in conjunction with the belt so that the dog can sit in the rear or front seat of your car. This one below is the only one currently available in the UK that has been safety tested to UK standards. Others are available which may also be equally good, but this one by Bergan has the testing and documentation to support it.
The tailgate guard fits at the rear of the boot/trunk of your car. It is a single panel that means you can open up your rear door without the dogs being able to jump out. It also means that on a hot day, perhaps if you have to wait in your car for any length of time while stationery, the rear door can be opened allowing good circulation of air but can still be locked and secured. As always, we strongly recommend that dogs are NEVER left unattended in a vehicle.
Bespoke Fitted Car Cages/Crates
Bespoke cages can be purchased specifically for your make and model of car. They are designed to fit exactly to the shape of your boot to maximise the space available but also to create a secure and stable compartment for Rover. There are several companies you can contact with your measurements who will make exactly what you want, to your own personal requirements. This one is by Barjo and they certainly do have a very good reputation.
Another great crate for your car is by a company called Safedog. Safedog crash tested car cages, TransK9 and 4Pets ProLine cages are, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, the best and most well tested car cage for dogs available in the UK right now. The ProLine range are of European manufacture and have not been available in the UK for very long. Safedog have a policy that they won’t sell to you if you are going to position the cage in an unsuitable place in your car/vehicle (they are designed with their own crumple zone which depends on being backed against the rear seats).
Window vents are a good way of allowing the windows to be open to get good ventilation while still preventing your canine companion from poking his head out! Its an image everybody has seen, the crazy dog with his head out of the window, ears and chops flobbling about in the wind as they drive. While admittedly very comical to see, this is in fact a very dangerous thing for your dog to do on a number of levels including possible damage to their eyes from the wind and particles on the air and also the possibility of them colliding with on coming traffic or leaping from the vehicle. There are many different types available – this one is by Petgear.
When you travel for any distance, the sun moves around. As it moves, it invariably at one point or another ends up shining through onto your dog. This can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous for dogs as they may over heat and/or dehydrate as a result of the sun beating down on them. A simple and temporary solution is the application of sunshade panels. They fold up fairly small, then “ping” open when you need them. They have suction pads that you simply stick to your window to fix them in place so installation literally takes seconds. I found these ones by Sakura which are foldable, lightweight and install quickly.
Non Spill Travel Bowl
Obviously, we recommend that your dog has access to clean, cool water at all times – even while travelling. Depending on the road surface, your suspension and the way you drive, keeping water in a bowl can be quite a tricky undertaking. It is now possible to get non spill bowls designed specifically for travelling. There are lots of different makes and types on the market. This one is by Petgear. This full size drinking bowl has a special rim to prevent water from spilling over. The external rim helps to stop water from escaping and to catch those dribbles that fall from their mouths. Non-slip, non-tip and lightweight plastic, great for use in cars, caravans, camping and holidays with your pet.
NB – I am not on commission from ANY of the companies mentioned above! lol