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Breed & Health Resources

How to Keep Pets Safe in The Car

By Stephanie Kesselem

woman in car with dalmatian

We all love our pets and want them around as often as possible. So when we hop in the car to go somewhere, our pets are often right there with us. However, we may be unwittingly putting them at risk. According to a survey sponsored by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products, only 16% of those driving with pets in the car use a pet restraint system. But simple changes to your routine can make a world of difference in protecting your furry copilot.

Use A Pet Carrier

While pets may be great for your health, letting them run wild in your car puts you both in danger. Do not allow your pet to sit on your lap (I know, they’re small and cute) while driving. Close and free proximity in the car can lead to potentially fatal distractions in the long run. There are many carriers to choose from and they offer a variety of color and size options. Companies like Sleepypod allow your pet to ride in style safely. They provide multifunction carriers that can be used in the car to secure your animal or at home as a nice nap spot!

For pet owners who travel or stay in hotels frequently – this allows you to comfortably keep a piece of home with you on the go. Additionally, the carriers can be used for veterinary transport or even decompression in a suddenly busy household!

Bonus: Embrace Pet Insurance policyholders receive a 15% Sleepypod discount. Just use the code “Embrace15” when checking out!

Seatbelts Protect More Than Just Owners

If your daily life doesn’t include enough travel to warrant a carrier, or if you have medium to large breed dog, doggy seatbelts and harnesses are a great alternative. These restraints work similarly to human seatbelts – they click into the seatbelt buckle on one end while attaching to your dog’s harness on the other. This prevents them from becoming a deadly projectile in the event of a crash.

Note: You should never attach a pet’s seatbelt to their collar. This can cause extensive neck injury in a collision, no matter the size of the animal.

Reinforce Good Behavior

You cannot expect your pet to know what you’re thinking without setting expectations. Many dogs associate car rides with exciting things such as going to the park. You need to let your pet know what is okay and what isn’t. When your pet is behaving well in the car, make sure to reward them for their hard work! If your pet is staying calm, residing in their carrier or harness, and meeting your expectations, make sure to reward them with positive reinforcement or treats once the car ride is over.

What Not to Do

According to the AAA and Kurgo survey, over 80% of dog owners’ drive with their pets in the car. Of those, 60% admitted to driving distracted by their pets. Frightening, right? Check out how you can help beat these statistics:

Do Not Use Booster Seats

Some outlets will promote “booster seats” for your dog so that they can better see out of the window or have a comfy spot to rest. These booster seats are typically not enclosed carriers but instead provide no real safety for your pet. In fact, allowing your dog to better reach the window isn’t the best idea…

Windows Aren’t Always Safe

Allowing your animal to stick their head out of the window may seem like a treat…the wind in their fur, tongue out, eyes smiling… until the unexpected happens. You should not allow your pet to hang their head out of the window. Mila, a six month old husky, gave her parents an unexpected scare when she jumped out of their moving car and broke her pelvis. Luckily, with her Embrace policy, Mila was able to undergo surgery and physical therapy that put her back on track! It only takes one rogue squirrel, someone cutting you off, or – worst case – an actual collision for your pet to be ejected from your window.

You should always have your pets in the backseat, tethered safely or in a carrier, with the expectation that they’ll remain calm or relaxed. This allows for less distraction from your puppy-eyed passenger while establishing boundaries. Clicker training, or other positive reinforcement, can be done in the car prior to an actual ride. This will help relay the rules to your pet and prepare them for any future errand runs.

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Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.