By: Derek Petersen
It’s that time of year that a lot of people will be traveling to see friends and family. If you’re like me, you take your furry friends on the road with you. Athena (my Siberian Husky) and Boston (my Chocolate Lab) always get so excited when they know it’s time for a ride in the car. Their eyes widen, ears perk up, and their tails start to wag. Little do they know that it’s not for a short trip, but were heading on an 8-hour drive to see the family. I find that waiting until the last minute to say “want to go for a ride,” works in my favor. Little do they know that I’ve been prepping them for this ride the last couple of days.
There are tips on traveling safe with your pet while in the car, but there are variables that you need to think about before putting your pet in the car for a long road trip. Taking these steps to prepare your dog for a long road trip is imperative to their health and wellbeing during your road trip this year.
Here are some easy steps to follow to ensure your dog has a great road trip:
Feed your dog early. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. It’s important to feed your dog a few hours early to help prevent motion sickness.
Prepare your vehicle for your pet. It’s recommended that you crate your dog for long road trips. If you don’t normally crate your dog, it may be time to rethink that decision. Crating your dog will create less of a distraction while you drive (especially while driving by yourself) which is safer for the both of you. Also, a crate helps to prevent your dog from becoming a projectile if you have to stop urgently, reducing the chance of injury for both of you. A best practice is to exercise your dog before putting them into the crate. A dog that has exercised is more likely to relax in the crate, while dogs who haven’t exercised will have built up anxiety and may not be willing to accept the crate.
Pack a bag with all of your dog’s goodies: dog food, treats, bottled water, dog leashes, waste bags and dog toys (their favorite toy, of course). This pet friendly travel kit should also contain portable dog bowls, dog documents, and a dog first aid kit. Keep the leashes handy, as you will be making frequent stops.
Now that you have prepared your dog and vehicle for the trip ahead, it’s time to plan the stopping spots. If you’re traveling on major freeways or highways, you can count on having rest areas (that almost always have a “pet section”) to stop and let your dog out. There are times you might need to stop and get food, but no matter where you stop, don’t ever leave your dog in the car. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked vehicle can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. On a cold day, a vehicle can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing your dog to possibly freeze to death.
Now we’ve gone through the steps in preparing your dog(s) for a long road trip, and you should be ready for the road ahead. Always continue to learn the best practices in keeping your family, pets, and yourself safe in your vehicle at all times. Buckle up and enjoy your trip!
In determining the best way to protect your best pal when he rides in the car consider your personal preferences, your dog’s behavior, and the type of vehicle you have (a car or an SUV?)….
Continue reading this article about crash tested pet travel products on PetAutoSafety.
Changes to the Pet Auto Safety retail site are coming soon!
By Dawn Ross
PetAutoSafety.com is making a change. As the owner of this site, I’m still going to be traveling safe with my family. But instead of selling pet travel safety products, I’ll be directing you to the places that do. I am changing the site to provide information rather than products. This way, you can do your research on crash testing and such here before buying from anyone.
By providing information, I can help you make an informed decision regarding what to buy. I’ve been selling and using pet travel products for my dogs since 2006, so I have lots of experience.
If you want the safest product for your pet, I know who the best companies are. If you want a less expensive product but one that still provides a measure of safety, I know where to look. If you have a dog that can’t ride in a crate and won’t wear a harness, I know of some alternative products. And if you need a unique pet travel product, I might have some ideas on where look for it.
It’s not just information on products that I’ll provide, though. I have some great ideas for how to get dogs used to riding in the car. I can help you with a checklist so that you don’t forget any of your pet’s things when you travel. And with the help of some folks who are very familiar with crash testing, I can help you understand crash test studies and crash testing information.
Thank you for supporting me through this change. J
Please feel free to comment below and tell me what you’d like to see on our new site.
Article by Richard Casey with 4×4 North America:
4×4 North America and our partner, MIM Construction AB, appreciate all efforts to raise awareness about traveling safely with pets. We are gravely concerned, however, about the dissemination of incomplete and inaccurate information about travel safety and crash dynamics, as it is counterproductive to traffic safety efforts. How one travels with pets can mean the difference between life and death for people and pets in an accident, so providing accurate information and sound recommendations is of paramount importance.
Automobile safety ratings incorporate testing for frontal impact, rear impact and rollover performance. This is because automobile safety agencies recognize the unique and significant risks posed to passengers in each of these crash scenarios. They also understand automobile safety features, such as cargo areas and crumple zones, and how they must respond to protect passengers during accidents.
MIM Construction AB has been working in automotive crash safety since 1986. Our MIM Safe Variocage – an automobile dog crate – has been stringently tested in accordance with government automotive crash safety standards in front impact, rear impact and rollover. It has been strategically engineered with the safety of everyone in mind – both people and pets. It has a proven track record of safety for over a decade.
Testing dog crates solely for frontal impact, and not incorporating actual vehicle safety features or assessing the impact to human occupants, presents an extremely limited and false representation of real crashworthiness and safety. Proposing that vehicle cargo hooks and cargo straps alone can adequately protect passengers from heavy cargo, such as a dog crate, contradicts safety recommendations made by national automotive safety agencies and automobile manufacturers, putting families and their pets at increased risk of serious injury and loss of life.
We believe that there should be regulations for traveling with pets and standardized testing for assessing the safety of pet travel products. It is critical, however, that these regulations and standards incorporate all aspects of crash testing and work together with vehicle safety features. This is the ONLY way to help people travel safely with their pets.
For further information and/or questions please feel free to contact us:
4×4 North America, Inc.
(Note from the blog owner: 4×4 North America is not a partner of, affiliate for, or parent company of Nature by Dawn, LLC for PetAutoSafety.com and PetAutoSafetyBlog.com. They are our supplier of AllSafe dog car harnesses and Variocage dog crate products and we strongly endorse them. 4×4 North America is the primary US distributor for these products, which are engineered by MIM and KleinnMetall in Germany. These two German companies have over 40 years of combined experience with developing crash tested products for pets. Their experience with pet travel safety is far greater than any independent studies conducted here in the US. While US institutions for pet safety do exist, they are fairly new and are still learning their trade. This is not to say that some aspects of their testing are not valid, but their testing may not be complete. This is an important factor to consider when making a decision on which pet travel safety product to buy for your dog. If you have any questions about the AllSafe and Variocage products and their European crash testing, please contact 4×4 North America as indicated above.)
No, it’s not Wordless Wednesday. It’s Words on Wednesday because I can’t seem to post without saying anything! This time, it is my Maya that has something to say. Check her out in the back seat wearing her Kurgo dog car harness and have a good laugh at what she has to say:
And just so my Pierson isn’t left out, here’s what he has to say about car ride fun:
Funny, right? Seriously though, check out this important safety message:
The Pet Dek is a great pet travel product for giving your dogs a more room in the back seat of your car. It has a number of other wonderful benefits and features. As with every product, though, there are some things you need to consider. Our purpose in sharing both the pros and the cons is to make sure you have enough information to make an informed decision before you purchase one. We wrote a review on the Pet Dek last year, but the product has had improvements made on it since then.
Covering – The Pet Dek is covered with a longer mat, allowing it to wrap around the edges.
No Slope – The back seat of cars slopes downward. The Pet Dek has a rounded projection under it so that it can be completely horizontal with no sloping. This also prevents any rocking should your dog step on the edges.
Holds 200 Pounds
Legs – In my post from last year, I mentioned that I had problems with one of the legs. The manufacturer was made aware of this and the design has been improved. There are no more issues with the legs. By following the installation instructions of this product, the legs will lock in place easily.
Made in USA
Vents Uncovered – The Pet Dek will not cover back seat air vents.
Storage – The Pet Dek easily folds up and fits in the trunk or cargo area. Folded size is 23″ x 24″ x 4″.
Easy to Carry – The Pet Dek weighs 12 pounds. When it is folded, there is a handle that makes it easy to carry.
Easy In/Easy Out – It can take less than a minute to set up the Pet Dek. And less than a minute to take it back out again.
Access to Front Console – If your dog is free to move about in the back seat, the Pet Dek may make it easier for him to step on the center console. This might be a dangerous distraction to the driver. If you are concerned about this issue, there are simple console pet car barriers made out of a canvas material that can block this space.
If Your Back Seat has a Raised Center Console – If you have a raised center console in the back seat like pictured above, the Pet Dek may not work.
If Your Seats Have Side-wells – If your seat has curved edges on the ends (I call them side-wells), there will be a gap between the Pet Dek and the back of the seat. I use pillows to fill the 1 1/2 inch gap (see below). One good thing about this gap, though, is that I have easy access to the seat belt housings, which is I used to buckle my dogs in.
Front Gap – Because the Pet Dek is just one size, there is probably going to be a gap between the edge of the Pet Dek and the front seats. If your dogs are buckled in like mine are, this won’t be an issue. But if your dog is free to move around, you may want to place something like pillows in those gaps so that your dog doesn’t step through.
Size Not Adjustable – As indicated above, the Pet Dek is just one size – 23″ x 40″ x 2″. There should be no problem with this pet travel product fitting into most vehicles, but just be aware that there might be a gap as indicated above.
Not Crash Tested – It is not known how the Pet Dek will hold up in a rollover, side impact, or front or back impact car accident. As of the date of this post, I am not aware of whether any products similar to the Pet Dek have been crash tested.
If you’re like me, you are looking at the Pet Dek because you want to make your big dog (or dogs) more comfortable in the back seat. Considering how narrow the back seat of most cars are, I find that the pros of the Pet Dek far outweigh the cons. My dogs Maya and Pierson can still wear their dog car harnesses. And depending on which car harness brand I have them wear, they can still stretch out their legs and be more comfortable on those long road trips. There is no more sliding off the seat when I have to stop suddenly and they don’t have to hug the back seat because of the seat slope.
If you have any questions about the Pet Dek pet travel product, please comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you already have the Pet Dek and want to share your experience, please feel free.
Welcome back to the Pros and Cons Series. Today, I will share the benefits and drawbacks of the German Engineered AllSafe dog car harness. Although I try to be objective, I must admit I am a little biased with this product. I was using the ClickIt Utility on my Labrador Maya for some time, but I loved the AllSafe so much that I immediately switched when I saw it. Let me tell you all about it:
Crash Tested – The AllSafe dog car harness has had a perfect safety record in Europe for over 15 years. If you are familiar with the new safety standard set up in the USA from the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), then you may know that the ClickIts rate #1 and that the AllSafe and Ruff Rider Roadie are a close second. It should be noted that CPS uses some different standards than Europe and there really is no way to know whose safety standards are better.
Comfortable to Wear – CPS Claims the AllSafe allows more motion in a crash as compared to the ClickIt. To them, this means it is not as safe as it could be. But is it realistic to expect a dog to be comfortable in a harness that is so restrictive? The ClickIt is so restrictive that people may be tempted to use it improperly in order to alleviate the tension. In my opinion, my Maya appears much more comfortable wearing the AllSafe. If I have Maya wear the ClickIt, it is for short trips only.
High Quality Construction – When I first saw the quality of the AllSafe, I was astounded. This brand is priced higher than most for various reasons and quality is definitely a contributing factor. The straps are thick and durable. The hardware is metal. And sewed construction is top-notch.
V-Neck to Prevent Choking – I like how the harness crosses the front of the chest. In a sudden stop, pressure is put on Maya’s lower chest and none is put on her neck.
Also Use as Walking Harness – This is one of the easiest harnesses to use as a walking harness. Simply clip on your dog’s leash and unclick the tether that is connected in the car.
Somewhat Restrictive – Although the AllSafe is not as restrictive as the ClickIt, it is still more restrictive than other brands. This is a safety feature, but you really have to assess what your dog will tolerate. If your dog is not used to dog car harness, you will have to take time to help him get used to it first. Otherwise, he might try to chew it off or he might wiggle out of it. There is no such thing as a safe, escape-proof dog seat belt.
Not Designed for Use in Cargo Area – Some dog seat belts allow for use in the cargo area, but the AllSafe has not been designed for this. You may be able to find a way to use it in the cargo area, but know it is not what the manufacturer intended.
Limited Sizes – There is no extra-small size. There is an extra-large size, but note that extra-large dog can’t have a girth greater than 42.8 inches.
Expensive – This brand is more expensive than most other brands in the USA. Safety and quality are the two primary reasons for this. Another reason is because it is manufactured in Germany and not in China. Most brands, including the ClickIt, are made in China. (Incidentally, the Ruff Rider Roadie is made in the USA.)
How to Put It On – Whether this is a pro or con is difficult for me to gauge. I’ve been using dog seat belts for years, so it is easy for me to figure out any brand, including the AllSafe. But it may not be as easy to put on as other brands. You have to put your dog’s feet through, so if your dog is reluctant to allow you to do this it can be a challenge. It may take time working with your dog for him to get used to it. Besides putting it on, this is what else you have to do in the car to secure the harness. These red clips come with the AllSafe.
So there you have it. These are the pros and cons I could think of for the AllSafe dog seat belt. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us through any of our contact methods listed on our About Us page. Our #DogTravelAdvisor is happy to help. 🙂
Welcome to the pros and cons series from #DogTravelAdvisor. Each post in the series will highlight a specific pet travel product and tell you more beyond what the manufacturer wants you to know. This post is about the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat. Learn the pros and cons of this product, which we have discovered through personal experience and from the experience of other people who have purchased it. By sharing both the positives and the drawbacks of this pet travel product, we hope you are able to make an informed decision in deciding whether it is right for you and your dog.
Keeps Dogs in Seat
Before giving you the cons, we will share the benefits that the manufacturer touts and which we agree with. The first benefit is a safety benefit. Have you ever had to stop suddenly only to have your dog lose his balance and slip to the floor? The bigger a dog is, the more likely this is to happen. The Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat keeps this from happening. Some dog seat belts are deemed not as safe by the Center for Pet Safety because even though a dog is wearing one, he launches off the seat in a crash simulation. This flat seat prevents that, thereby increasing the safety of the harness.
Gives More Room
I personally have two big dogs, Maya and Pierson. When they ride in the car on long road trips, trying to stay in the narrow seat for several hours can be very uncomfortable. The flat seat gives them more room to stretch out.
With that being said, the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat is sturdy enough to hold my two big dogs. In fact, the manufacturer claims it can hold up to 200 pounds.
Easy to Assemble
The flat seat consists of two big pieces, a few nuts and bolts, and two straps to hang from the headrest. The nuts and bolts are big enough to put together by hand, so no tools are needed. Simply put the two pieces together, bring the front seats forward a bit, place the flat seat in the car, bring the seats back, then use the straps to secure the flat seat to the front seat head rests.
Thin and Flat
This seat extender is different from two other seat extenders we carry in that it is thin and almost completely flat. The Pet Deck is thicker and this can cause gaps in some places. The BackSeat Bridge is just as thin, but it doesn’t go all the way to the way front to back. This means there is a ridge, or lip, that can make it uncomfortable for big dogs to stretch out.
Dogs are not the only thing that can benefit from this flat seat. You can stack your groceries on it, luggage, or anything else that you need to put in the back seat of your car.
Two big sheets are what cover the seat and the floor. Since these sheets are strong enough to hold two dogs, they also have a little weight to them. But you don’t have to be a weightlifter to lift them. As a woman who can’t do a single push-up, I have no problem taking the seat in and out of my car. But it might be an issue for some.
Won’t Work in Some Cars
Although the flat seat can fit most cars, there are exceptions. Consider the side wells of the seats. If they stick out too much or won’t allow the square corners of the seat to go between them, then the flat seat may not fit properly. Also, consider if there is a raised center console in the back seat. And finally, consider whether you want the square corner of the flat seat to go between the leather seats.
Despite the flatness of this product, there are still gaps. There is a square cutout so that the flat seat can still be installed if the front center console sticks out in the back (notice it to the right of Pierson in the very top image). Because this square cutout is one size, there can be a gap for dog paws to step through. If your dog is not harnessed and if he likes to step on the center console, this gap can be a problem. There can also be gaps on either side of the flat seat, depending on the size of your car. Most seat extenders will have gaps, but measure your car and compare it to the flat seat dimensions to see if the gaps will be a problem for you and your dog.
Not Crash Tested
This product is not crash tested. It is quite possible that it will break in a car accident.
The flat seat is adjustable from front to back, but only in three stages. It is not adjustable from side to side. Measure and compare to make sure it will fit in your car.
For me, the pros of the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat outweigh the cons. I don’t have leather seats and it fits my Ford Contour and Toyota Camry just fine. The gaps are minimal, except by the front console. But since my dogs wear seat belts, it is not a problem. Even though they wear seat belts, they still need room to stretch out on those long road trips. Whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for you depends on your vehicle, your dog or dogs, and your situation. If you have any questions about the flat seat, ask our #DogTravelAdvisor by contacting us through our About Us page link on the right or by commenting below.
Highlight on Crash Tested Pet Travel Products
Do you like taking your dog with you when you travel? I know our family vacations tend to be planned around our dogs. We generally travel by car to places within driving distance. If our destination is hours away, we stay over at pet friendly hotels to break up the trip. And just like for ourselves, we don’t count on luck to protect the safety of our dogs. We use crash tested pet travel products. There are only a few such products out in the market today. Let us give you a highlight of a few.
The Variocage is a pet travel cage that is fitted into the cargo area of an SUV. It is a German engineered product of steel construction and it has been extensively tested to meet or exceed European crash test standards. Unlike similar cages for the SUV, the Variocage has been crash tested for multiple auto accident scenarios. (Many other crash tested cages currently on the market have only been tested with basic techniques.) The Variocage has metal joints rather than plastic. The powder-coated steel doesn’t splinter into dangerous projectiles. The cage has crumple zones to absorb impacts and keep the cage from being crushed into the back of the front passengers. Two cons to consider: 1) Price (which is a reflection of its crashworthiness), and 2) Assembly required.
The Sleepypod pet car seat is for smaller dogs. The seat is secured using the seat belt of the car, which is more than strong enough to secure a small pet. The Sleepypod is made of soft but highly durable material that absorbs your pet’s inertia in a crash without breaking. The absorption of the material means your small dog won’t hurt himself the way he would if he hit the wall of a plastic carrier. The Sleepypod Air is similar to the regular Sleepypod in all respects except it is rectangular rather than circular. Two cons to consider: 1) For cats or very small dogs only, and 2) Tends to run out of stock frequently.
The ClickIt Utility and ClickIt Sport dog car harnesses are fairly new pet travel products (from Sleepypod). According to the Center for Pet Safety, they provide ultimate crash test safety by keeping your dog in his seat during a crash. Side-to-side motion is restricted and your dog will not launch off the seat. Two cons to consider: 1) It can be difficult to put on your dog, especially the ClickIt Utility, and 2) It is highly restrictive and probably not ideally comfortable for long road trips. In fact, your dog can only sit or lay down in this harness. He cannot stand.
The AllSafe dog car harness is German engineered and has been used in Europe for over 10 years. According to the Center for Pet Safety, which is a fairly new US testing center, it does not prevent your dog from launching off the seat. But European standards have been in place much longer and have concluded that this not an issue. Also, the AllSafe is not as restrictive as the previously mentioned brand. Your dog can sit, stand, or lay down. Two cons to consider: 1) Price as compared to other crash tested harnesses, and 2) Movement is still restricted, which may not be ideal for hyper dogs. A longer tether can be purchased for the AllSafe, but keep in mind that less restriction reduces the safety.
Ruff Rider Roadie
The Ruff Rider Roadie is a US dog car harness brand (made in the USA) and has been around for several years. It has been crash tested in both the US and in Germany. The tether on this harness can be shortened or lengthened for your dog’s needs. The Ruff Rider is designed to fit almost every size of dog. A con to consider: If the harness is adjusted too small, it can be difficult to put on. Since it is designed to be a little loose, some dogs may be able to back out of it.
Bergan & Kurgo
The Bergan and Kurgo brand dog seat belts have also been crash tested. Although they did not perform as well in safety as the three previously mentioned brands, they do provide some measure of safety and they are reasonably priced. Both have padded chest pads, which help to dissipate pressure. The tether for the Bergan is adjustable. A con to consider for the Kurgo is if dogs move around too much in this harness, they can get tangled in the tethering mechanism.
If you are considering traveling with your dog this spring, don’t count on luck to keep him safe. Consider a crash tested product that will keep your best friend safe in the car for years to come.
Where are you and your dog going to go this spring?
If you live in Connecticut, then perhaps you have heard that Senator Doyle has proposed a bill to the Connecticut General Assembly that will make it illegal for a driver to allow their dog to ride in their lap (Proposed Bill #518, CT Gen. As.) & (Connecticut Post). Perhaps your dog doesn’t distract you when he rides in your lap, but you may soon have to keep him off your lap if you want to avoid getting a ticket. If you are worried that your dog is so used to riding in your lap that he will get anxiety by not being allowed, we have some tips that might help.
BED AND TOYS
If your dog has a bed that he really loves to sleep in, put this bed in the passenger seat or the back seat. Give your dog his favorite toy or treat to chew on. For your dog’s safety, it is probably best not to use toys or treats with sharp edges as this could harm him if you stop or swerve suddenly.
TRAINING & PRACTICE
Find a big empty parking lot where you can drive around safely without danger of hitting pedestrians or other vehicles. Drive around with your dog and reward him for staying calm in his seat. If he won’t stay in his seat, toss a small treat into the seat for him to retrieve, then toss him another one while he is in the seat. You should make sure you are at a full stop before rewarding him or simply have a friend ride with you that can reward your dog.
PET ANXIETY REMEDY
If your dog has anxiety about being separated from you, consider various pet anxiety remedies. The Thundershirt is clothing your dog can wear. This product has great success at helping dogs with anxiety issues. There is also an all-natural herbal remedy called Travel Calm that you can put on your dog. Some dog anxiety treatments also come in pill form. Also, keep in mind that sometimes your dog’s anxiety is a reflection of your anxiety. If you remain calm and don’t make a fuss, this could go a long way to help keep your dog calm.
PET TRAVEL PRODUCTS
There are several pet travel products that you can use to keep your dog off your lap. Another benefit of using one of these products is the safety benefit. Certain products not only keep your dog from being a distraction, they also offer a measure of crash-worthy safety.
If your dog likes to see out the window, there are several pet car seats that allow this. These car seat also have a tether in them that you can use to attach to your dog’s harness to keep him in the seat. Do not attach the tether to your dog’s collar since this could choke him if you slam on the brakes. If your dog likes to be by your side, there are pet car seats that attach to your car’s center console. And, if your dog likes his crate at home, you can have him use his crate in the car too. If you feel these products provide too little space for your dog, there are several other pet travel products to choose from in today’s market, such as dog car harnesses or pet nets and barriers.
Even if your dog doesn’t distract you when you drive, there is another good reason he shouldn’t ride in your lap. Airbags are not safe for dogs. If your airbag deploys, a minor car accident could turn deadly for your dog, and possibly do serious damage to you as well.
Although this law has not been made yet, you can still get a ticket for driving while distracted. Not only that, it just isn’t safe for you or your dog if he rides in your lap. So don’t wait for Connecticut to specifically ban dogs riding in laps to take action. Protect your best pal today. Many of the pet travel products mentioned above can be found by clicking on the Shop button on the top right of this page.
Do you let your dog ride in your lap? Do you know someone who does? Do you have any other pet travel concerns? Let the #DogTravelAdvisor know by emailing us or commenting below.