Skip to content
Previous article
Now Reading:
Is your animal friend safe in the car?

Is your animal friend safe in the car?

Car safety and pets

As a driver I have a bad  habit.  I don’t usually buckle up right away but a few minutes after I start driving and the car’s warning signal gets louder and more annoying. I finally listen and  with an attitude of a teenager I reluctantly buckle up.

I myself am puzzled by this. What  brings on the teenager like attitude within me? Why  do I  take the chances and believe falsely that accidents are less likely to happen in the first kilometer or two of the trip?  There is something in most of us that makes as do things that are thrilling and dangerous, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense.

In the 90’s, I worked in a vet clinic in Whistler, British Columbia, a beautiful mountain resort full of thrill seeking folks, who hurl themselves down the double black diamonds  runs  that are steeper than this letter A.

Before the local bylaws tightened up, Whistlerites were also infamous for letting their dogs roam freely around town especially on powder days. Dogs can walk themselves, especially with 3 feet of fresh powder waiting, right?

Unfortunately many dogs couldn’t and I remember hating the “hit by car” emergency calls.

Neither were cats spared of the thrill seeking attitude of their owners. One of them  refused to put  his cat in a carrier when driving and they hurled down a ravine. During the ride to the clinic his freaked out cat decided to latch onto my clients face. It was a miracle  that neither of them were hurt except the car was a total write off.

My memory also takes me back to Cass a beautiful German Shepherd who was adopted by my friend Pat. The previous owner tied her to the track canopy with rope attached to her collar. It took one sharp turn, Cass flew of the truck and was dragged behind for a while before he noticed. She miraculously survived but  the  owner could not pay the vet bills and gave her up.

The good news is that Cass has a better home now. Unfortunately, the consequences of this nasty accident will be with Cass for  the rest  of her life.

The person who finally inspired me to write this  blog is Anna,  a great friend and a dog lover who would throw  herself of a cliff if her dog was in trouble.  However, Anna too, as most of us, has a dangerous habit. She leaves her dog Sam sit on the front  seat because “ he is so  cute”  and he is too hot in the back of the car.

First, I wanted to tell Anna right there that her  dog’s nose is a few inches from the airbag. Then my voice budged  in: “Peter, it is not your business!”  “Well it is and it isn’t.” I argued, “A dog can’t speak for himself and what if there was an  accident?  The airbag’s release  would break Sam’s neck and…. Anna would never forgive herself.”

After this heated argument of me with me, I settled for posting a line on my facebook. Anna did find it and replied with a kind and  funny comment: “Busted!”

I hope that reading the above lines will either freak you out or inspire you enough to want to read the following lines to make your animal friend safer when traveling. Here is what  you can do…

  1. Do not let your pet roam the car  freely when driving. Your animal friend doesn’t  have a driving license and has no concept of what would happen if it wedges under the break pedal or prevents you from steering.
  2. A safely fastened pet carrier is a great option for cats and some dogs. It is a excellent way to prevent your car hurling down the ravine because your freaked out cat latched onto your face.
  3. Dog owners – buy a car for you pet. I am not kidding! Get a car with a built in safety cargo net. It doesn’t  need to be brand spanking new. Just safe. Your dog will have both  the comfort and safety when contained in the  back of your car. Some people  think that driving BMW is an unnecessary excess. I bought it because it has the best built in cargo netting on the market. I can also fold the rear seats down and move the cargo net right behind the front seats if I want Skai to be closer.

    I  remember, one time,  a work crew was repairing the road. My  lane was open and as  I was slowly driving ahead. Suddenly, I saw a huge truck speeding in the opposite directions, going way too fast. In order for the truck driver to not  hit the crew, he  swerved the truck into my lane. In slow motion, I saw the truck hurling towards me, breaks screeching, tires  smoking… I stepped on the breaks with full force  and closed my eyes. The truck stopped 10 meters away. If  Skai was not safely contained behind the cargo net, he would have flown through the vehicle, possibly getting injured or killed.
    I will never regret spending the extra money for a car from a manufacturer who cares about pet safety.



  4. If you can’t help it and love seeing Fido stick his head out the  window to watch the world whiz  by, get a dog seatbelt harness that can buckle in.
  5. If you  want to give  your dog an even greater  degree of freedom,  you can use a nylon cargo strap or climbing rope and loop it  around the rear seat. Make sure that it is securely fastened.  Use a climbing karabiner to clip your dog to. This will allow him to move freely from  side to side.
  6. If you are the one who loves to have your  best  friend on your  lap when driving or on the passenger seat, stop and think. Is it worth taking the risk that your best friend could be killed  instantly by  the airbag or by being catapulted out of the vehicle?
  7. If you have a truck and  like to keep your dog in the cargo area, do this only  in the warm months. You dog should wear a proper seat belt harness  attached  to both sides of the canopy. The rope  must be short enough to prevent  your dog from  falling out.
  8. Never leave your dog running freely in the canopy, attach the collar to the rope or tie him to only one side. Remember Cass. It only takes one sharp turn and  Fido will fall out,  to be dragged and likely killed or seriously injured..

I know, I know, we all love to seek  thrills once every while. We all break the rules.  How about finding other ways to get the “fix;” a ride on a rollercoaster,  watching a scary movie  or sky diving.

Just promise me one thing that you keep your animal friend out of it and safe…

PS:  Save animal lives and please share this blog with others.

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

Most Popular

  • Flying with dogs
    In my article, I share the personal story of how I'm able to fly with my dog, Pax, thanks to overcoming challenges with sleepwalking and night terrors. This unique experience not only allowed me to travel with my service dog but also serves as a reminder that even difficult situations can have positive outcomes.
  • dog and pony
    Successful communication is essential for building healthier and more fulfilling relationships and happier lives. In this article, I'll share with you 8 communication hacks to help you avoid unnecessary drama, prioritize active listening and address conflicts effectively.
  • Dalmatian eating fruit
    Can dogs eat bananas, apples, strawberries and other fruit? What about grapes? Find out what fruits are safe, toxic, and healthy for dogs. Learn about the potential health benefits and risks of feeding fruit to your canine companion, and get tips on the ideal time to feed it.
  • Illustration of the anatomy of a heart
    As dog lovers, we all want our beloved pups to live long and healthy lives. Protecting your dog's heart from potential health issues is important, and in this blog Dr. Dobias shares some key points that you might not yet be aware of, read on to find out what you can do to keep your dog's heart safe. 

Dog Health

  • Husky lying on blanket with heart toy
    Dogs have our hearts and that is why we need to protect their heart. Dog’s as they age often face muscle problems and spinal misalignment and you might be surprised to know how that can hurt their heart. Learn how to protect your dog’s spine and by extension their heart.
  • The secret ingredient for a perfect No. 2
    Dogs and humans have evolved side-by-side but they are still quite different when it comes to their digestive tracts and dietary habits. We have studied their original environments such as the soils of the African savanna and consulted with top experts in the field of probiotics and microbiology to come up with a combination that reflects healthy bacterial flora of canines.
  • Man being pointed at
    Criticism can hurt a brand, but constructive feedback can help it grow. In this blog Dr. Dobias talks about the differences between these approaches, and how to handle the power of influence and opinion with care. 
  • Broccoli with vitamins and minerals
    Are you worried that your and your dog's diet is missing something? Maybe you're worried about toxin levels in food, the environment, or flea and tick products. Let's face it; we can't remove ourselves entirely from our toxin-filled world, but we can do things to reduce our exposure to harmful substances. 

Human health

  • Dr. Dobias with Pax
    How do you navigate the seas of life? How do you deal with disappointment? Whatever life throws at us, we can always rely on our dogs to bring joy into our days. In this blog I share my thoughts on the support our dogs provide during the difficult moments in life. 
  • Why 1 in 4 Americans suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    Learn more about the alarming prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) affecting 1 in 4 Americans. Discover its main risk factors, diagnosis methods, and treatment options to better manage or prevent this silent yet severe condition. 
  • A new perspective on brain health, memory loss, Alzheimer's Disease, and dementia in people and dogs
    The Science of DHA and the Brain: Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily DHA, are the unsung heroes of brain health. They play crucial roles in brain physiology and biological activities, with exciting links between Omega-3 levels and cognitive function. Higher DHA levels have been shown to preserve the integrity of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), your brain's security system
  • Dr. Dobias and Pax
    It appears that most of the world is ready for change, but whenever I think about the solutions to any of the problems that plague our world, I can’t prevent myself from thinking that we humans are acting like little toddlers who have broken a toy and do not know how to fix it. Despite my generally optimistic attitude, I have had a hard time staying positive at times because I know how complex this all is. Read here for some tools that make me feel good about the world, which I would like to share with you.

News, stories and good life

  • Dr. Peter Dobias with his dog Pax on his lap
    Do you have trouble staying positive during difficult times? These days we are surrounded by a lot of negative messaging, and it's easy to let that get you down. Here are some of my tips for remaining positive, and don't forget to share your tips with me!
  • Man raising fist on a mountain
    Most of us have been exposed to panic-inducing information about the virus spread, however, I have noticed the general absence of one piece of information, how to make your immune system stronger and body more resilient. (It will definitely not happen by stockpiling toilet paper!) I have always loved immunology and the current situation has prompted me to put together two simple lists on how to increase your dog’s and your own immunity.
  • Man with dog wearing a collar
    Does your dog have ear problems, nasal or oral tumors, reverse sneezing or an  itchy head or hair loss on their head? Learn how you can address some of these problems and save thousands in vet care costs.
  • Terrier eating raw food
    Now there is no need to guess if there is something missing in your dogs diet.  The HairQ Test is a highly accurate test for mineral deficiencies, toxins and heavy metals in dogs to finely tune your dog’s diet and supplement schedule.



Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping