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Where does YOUR pet ride in the car?

Contributed by Janice Herman, Louie's mom.




This concern came up on a short ride to a nearby park with our dog “safely” being held on my lap….


Our dog Louie rides to work every day with my husband (Dr. Herman) — safely harnessed in the front passenger seat.  We checked ahead of time that he would NOT trigger the airbag since he is too light to register with the device as a passenger (see picture below).  We always take care to put him in a secure harness, and then belt him in with the seatbelt.

Louie in car 1

Louie secured safely with a harness and seat belt.


What we didn’t think about initially is how dangerous it is to hold him on my lap as we run an errand such as our short trip to the park for a walk.   Since someone (me) was in the passenger seat – the airbag was activated to go off in the event of an accident.  Our dog would have been caught between me and an inflating airbag!

I’m sure many of you have transported your pets this way – holding them in the front seat on your lap – maybe you think it will keep them calmer, or that they can look outside, etc.  Whatever the reason….STOP NOW!

While airbags are there to keep adult passengers safe in the event of an accident, they can be deadly to small critters and children.  If the airbag deploys and your pet is anywhere in the front seat – they can be killed or seriously injured.  One exception:   If your car does not have a passenger-side airbag (or the device can be de-activated), it is usually acceptable for the pet to ride along in the front seat, as long as they are properly restrained.


So where should pets ride in the car?


The same place small children should ride – in the back seat. And just like small children, pets should be secured in the seat. Why? So if you have to suddenly hit the brakes, swerve drastically, or you get in an accident, your pet will stay put and not go catapulting out the window, into the windshield, or become wedged under the seat. Even if your dog usually rides quietly in the back seat, if something scares him, he’s likely to jump into your lap, scramble over your shoulder, or slide under your feet.  Any of these can cause an immediate accident.

Dogs and Summer

8 things you can do to protect your dog in the summer

  1. Never, ever leave your dog in the car;
  2. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water;
  3. Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside;
  4. Take walks during the cooler hours of the day;
  5. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it can burn your dog's paws;
  6. If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off;
  7. Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet;
  8. Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats (talk to your veterinarian first to see if it's appropriate for your pet), and apply sunscreen to your dog's skin if she or he has a thin coat.

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