Dog seat belts: not all created equal

With the return of spring, many of you may be making travel plans. Are you among the one-third of Canadians who live with a dog? Are you planning to take Fido on a car trip? If so, you may have thought about buying a seat belt to protect your dog. If so, you should be aware that most dog car harnesses don’t get a passing grade in collision tests. Those are worrisome findings!

Indeed, there are risks involved in driving with your companion animal if it isn’t properly protected or secured. In the event of an accident, your animal can become a danger to you and can cause serious damage to your vehicle, while also being one of the victims, because even a very small dog can become a dangerous projectile when its weight is multiplied by the speed of the car.

Insurers do not usually factor dogs into the equation when they calculate car insurance premiums and do not have guidelines or recommendations on this matter. But the fact is that prevention is key in this type of situation.

It’s prudent to consider how you can best protect all your passengers, including your dog. For example, you can confine Fido to a safe spot in the cargo area or have him ride in a properly secured carrier.

Another solution is to get a seat belt specially designed for your dog. But, as a report by the CBC TV show, Marketplace, revealed, most seat belts don’t offer sufficient protection and can even harm your canine friend.

U.S. studies have also confirmed these findings. It’s important to do your homework before making a purchase and to choose a product that offers complete protection.

Another argument for a (genuinely secure) seat belt, or other method of keeping Fido from roaming free inside the vehicle, is to prevent him from obstructing your view while driving, which can earn you a ticket for violating current regulations.

Once your safety measures are in place, all that’s left is to plan your trip. Buckle up—vacation time is just around the corner!

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