Car Restraints for Dogs

Mastiff's head sticking out of a car window

Car restraints for dogs help keep you and your pet safe when the two of you are on the go.

Keep Safety in Mind

Sure, it can be a lot of fun to bring your canine companion along on road trips, or when you're running errands around town, but the fun could quickly turn to tragedy without the proper safety precautions in place.

Accidents happen, but car restraints for dogs can help lessen your pet's chances of injury and may even save it's life. During an impact, your vehicle and any loose objects quickly become dangerous projectiles, easily causing injury or death. An unrestrained dog is one of those projectiles, so it's extremely important to keep your pet secured during the drive.

Types of Car Restraints for Dogs

Different types of car restraints for dogs offer varying degrees of protection. Every owner should carefully compare what is available and make their own decision about which type of travel protection will best serve their pet.

Dog Seat Belts

Dog seat belts have become a popular pet restraint item in recent years, with the Toyota automotive company now offering them as an additional option on their models. These seat belts utilize a snug fitting harness for your dog that buckles into your car seat belt.

Prices range from $15.00 to $75.00, and it's true, you get what you pay for, so this is one area you don't necessarily want to economize in.

Dog belts can withstand a great deal of impact pressure, usually up to 9,000 pounds, which is about 4,000 pounds more than is required for human seat belts. When choosing a dog seat belt be sure to look for the following features:

  • Wide straps are best, preferably lined with sheepskin for comfort. Wider straps distribute the impact pressure much more efficiently, lessening the chance of injury to your pet.
  • Look for an exact fit for your pet. A seat belt/harness that is too large for your pet may allow him to slip out during an impact, while a harness set up that is too snug may actually cause sore spots.
  • Make sure the nylon buckles on the harness are not expected to bear the load pressure during impact because they will likely give way. This is a major problem with the bargain priced seat belt models, and a very good reason to avoid them.

Dog Car Seats

Dog car seats are similar to dog seat belts, but they offer a partially enclosed sitting area for your pet in addition to the buckling apparatus. Some designs are quite simple, with a basic canvas-box seat structure. Other designs are lined with sheepskin for greater comfort. Dog car seats provide some restraint for your pet, but many models do not meet the same standard of protection provided by some of the higher grade dog seat belt set ups.

Depending on the size and number of dogs each seat will accommodate, prices range from $45.00 to $150.00.

Travel Crates

Travel crates can provide a great deal of protection for your pet when you're on the road. These crates are available in heavy gauge metal wire or high density polymer plastic. The plastic type has a small advantage over the wire because your pet's legs will not poke through in the event of an impact.

The main drawback to using travel crates is the fact that they don't really come with a mechanism to secure them to the car seat. Many owners will run the auto seat belt through the crate's carrying handle to buckle it in, but this is not an ideal solution, as the handle could be pulled off during an impact, setting the crate free. However, your dog will still be safer than if there was no restraint at all, and the travel crate will also protect your dog from being hit by other flying objects.

Depending on the size and quality of the travel crate you select, average prices range from $20.00 to $90.00.

A bit of general advice. Some type of restraint system for your dog is better than no restraint at all, but the higher the quality and protection, the higher the price tag. Don't skimp when it comes to your pet's safety.

External Links

Sources for some of the car restraints for dogs that have been discussed.

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Car Restraints for Dogs