Car Safety

by Dr. Francesca Matthews

Does your dog love travelling in the car?


For most dogs, a trip in the car is a highlight of their day. A trip in the car means time spent with their owner and often an exciting adventure like a trip to the park, beach or the vets!


Real life safety reminders


Lucky dog

I was working my usual weekly shift at one of our branches when a call came in from a client wanting to get slotted in sometime in the afternoons consults. There was 1 slot free in 20 minutes. The client arrived very flustered and told us of his hair raising trip. As he travelled down a busy suburban street (at slow speed thankfully) to our clinic with his 9 month old puppy poking his head out the window, the pup accidentally stood on the electric window button and within a second the window was fully open and the dog was gone.

Luckily for the puppy and owner, the dog sustained no injuries and the puppy was able to be reunited with his owner quickly due to a number of road workers on the street.


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Not so lucky dog

This story prompted the veterinary nurse working with me that day to remember another case she had seen where the dog was not so lucky. The dog leaped from the car window at 80km per hour. At this speed the injuries were horrific and the dog ended up needing to be euthanased.


Keeping you and your dog safe in the car


A dog that is roaming free in the car is a danger to the occupants of the car as well as placing itself at risk.

In the event of an accident, your dog could be thrown free from the car or thrown into an occupant of the car like a missile. Both will have devastating outcomes.

Even when there is not an accident, animals roaming free in the car can decide, because something outside catches their eye, to jump.

Another problem with loose dogs in the car is that they may wander over to the driver and distract their driving, or in the case of smaller dogs get themselves into the driver's side foot well and disrupt the driver's control of the foot pedals.


What should you do?


Small dogs should be placed in a crate and the crate secured (with a seat belt for example). This option can also work well for larger dogs, with the crate placed in the boot of a station wagon or similar type vehicle.

Uncrated dogs should be secured using a doggy seat belt harness.

If your dog is loose in the car then they should be in the boot of a station wagon type vehicle with a secure divider between the boot and the back seat. In the event of an accident the dog will then not be a missile and hit people as it gets thrown forward through the car.

If the dog is riding on an open deck ute, they must be secured using a short chain.





Dogs must be given adequate ventilation in a vehicle so they should not be secured in the boots of sedan type cars.

They must also be allowed adequate stops on long trips for food, water and toilet stops, as well as to stretch their legs.

Refer to the code of minimum standards and recommendations for dogs for further information.

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