Is Your Vehicle Pet Friendly?

BYNina Russin
Many animal owners consider their furry friends to be part of the family. Yet they unknowingly put their pets at risk by allowing them to ride unrestrained in a vehicle. In addition to increasing the animal’s risk of injury should a collision occur, a frightened animal that jumps out of the car can transform a relatively minor event into one that is much more serious.
Follow these tips to ensure a happy and safe journey for your canine or feline road trip companion.
Prepare a seat for your pet
The safest place for animals to travel is in the cargo bay or second-row seats in a kennel or harness. If your dog or cat is riding in the back, make sure the area is well ventilated, especially in hot weather. Also consider disabling power window controls so a dog doesn’t accidentally depress the buttons and injure a paw.
Choose the right crate or harness
Not all crates are equally safe — check the Center for Pet Safety’s crash test ratings at The crate should be large enough for the animal to sit, lie down, and turn around in: usually about 6 inches longer than the animal’s body. A blanket inside the crate will make your pet more comfortable. Secure the crate using strength-rated anchor straps so it can’t slide around when the vehicle is in motion.
Harnesses that tie into a vehicle’s existing seatbelt system are an option for larger dogs. For smaller dogs, consider a booster seat that lifts the animal up so he or she can see out the window.
Take breaks
Animals need to get used to riding in vehicles, so take your dog or cat on shorter trips around town before departing on an extended road trip. During longer trips, plan routine stops for your animal to stretch and relieve himself. Bringing along some favorite toys will help alleviate the anxiety your furry companion may experience in a moving vehicle.
NINA RUSSIN specializes in reviewing vehicles for buyers with active lifestyles and owns a Jeep Wrangler because, like her, it likes to spend time off the grid.
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