Years of tests have shown us how effective seatbelts are in saving human lives. Are dog seat belts as effective? Many dog-owners love taking their beloved pets with them wherever they can and it’s important that we protect our dog’s lives just as much as human lives.
Dog seat belts are effective at protecting your dog while you’re driving. The seat belts secure your dog in case of harsh braking, sharp turns, and collisions. The dog seat belt also restrains your dog from distracting you or making sudden runs inside or to the outside of your car.
Like any other passenger, your dog should always be restrained while inside a moving car. To learn more about the effectiveness of canine seat belts, read on.
How Well Do Dog Seat Belts Work?
Driving with a dog in your car requires some extra safety measures. You have to guard against your dog:
- Jumping out of the car
- Getting injured in a car accident
- Being launched as a projectile when you suddenly brake, swerve, roll, or collide
- Running around inside the car and distracting the driver
A dog seat belt works by restraining your dog to a particular seat. For example, if you have your dog on the front passenger seat, they can’t move onto the driver’s lap or to the seats behind. The dog can’t jump out the window or walk out the door even if it’s open.
Dog car seats attach a full-body dog harness to the car’s seat belt system. In case of a sudden move, the strap of the seat belt spreads out the pulling force across your dog’s chest and back. This reduces the impact on more delicate areas such as the head and neck.
A good dog seat belt will latch to the back of the harness between the shoulder blades. The dog shouldn’t be able to wiggle out of the harness, as that would indicate the harness is oversize or of poor design.
Are Dog Seat Belts Effective?
Because dog seat laws are fairly new, there’s not many studies by manufacturers, federal agencies, or consumer groups about the efficiency of buckling up your dog. However, there have been a few safety tests conducted by animal welfare organizations.
The results suggest that dog seat belts are effective in restraining dogs from running off or being a distraction. However, the dog seat belts don’t protect the dog from hazards associated with collision impacts and single-vehicle accidents.
That is to say, if you have your dog secured by a dog seat belt, the dog can’t jump on your lap or run off through the door. However, when you hit a tree, the dog can be launched through the car like a projectile. When deployed, the safety airbags may hit the dog’s face and body, causing injury.
In one study by the AAA and Kurgo, only 16 percent of dog owners use restraints on their dogs while driving. 65 percent of dog owners admit to engaging in distracting activities with their dogs while driving. Some of the distracting activities include:
- 52 percent admitted to petting the dog
- 23 percent have used their hands and arms to hold a dog in place when braking the car.
- 19 percent have used their hands and arms to try stop a dog from climbing to the front seat from the back.
- 18 percent have reached out to the back seat to pet and engage the dog.
- 17 percent admit to allowing their dog to sit on their lap while driving.
- 13 percent have fed their dog food and treats while on the road.
- 3 percent have taken photos of the dog while the car is moving.
In another study conducted by the Center for Pet Safety, results show that most dog car seat belts don’t provide adequate protection to dogs in car crashes. The study used a 55-pound crash-test dummy dog sent into 30 mph crashes. The test covered four different dog seat belts. All four dog car seat belts failed safety tests and some could even cause fatal injuries.
What’s The Safest Dog Seat Belt?
According to Consumer Reports, there are no recognized industry standards in manufacturing dog seat belts. However, the Center for Pet Safety, with support from Subaru, independently tested dog harness systems on 3 crash test dummies.
The dummies represented a 75-pound golden retriever, a 45-pound border collie, and a 25-pound terrier mix. The tests followed the FMVSS 213 standard, which is the current procedure for certifying child safety seats. According to the tests, the top-performing dog seat belts were:
Sleepyod Clickit Sport
- Wide supportive vest
- Ballistic nylon exterior
- Automotive-grade seatbelt webbing
- 3 points of seatbelt contact
- Infinity loop design for quick connection and release and cushioning impact.
Sleepyod Clickit Terrain
Suitable for dogs 18 lbs. to 110 lbs. and made with service dogs in mind but can work well with family dogs too. Features include:
- Shock-absorbing sleeves
- Infinity loop design.
- Reflective patches interchangeable with service dog patches.
ZuGoPet The Rocketeer Pack
CPS-certified for pets 25 lbs or smaller but has different sizes fitting bigger dogs. The Rocketeer pack can only be used with baby car seat connections. Features include:
- Adjustable to your dog’s size
- Multiple-point contact with baby seat system
What Should I Look for In a Dog Seat Belt?
Dog seat belts are designed to keep the dog comfortable, safe, and in place. Some of the features you should be looking for include:
- Full body harness to distribute the pulling force for reduced impact.
- Compatibility with your car’s seat belt system. Some dog seat belts require special connectors.
- Ease of use. You want to be able to restrain and free your dog in just a few clicks.
- Comfort. Avoid any products which make your dog feel anxious or stressed.
- Safety certified by an independent and credible authority such the CPS.
- Warranty. Some manufacturers offer to exchange your dog’s seat belt if you get involved in an accident. It’s not advisable to keep using one even if there are no apparent damages.