Category Archives: vehicle safety

Should We Let Dogs Hang Their Heads Out Car Windows?


By Linda Cole

Why does your dog look at you like, “Is that really necessary” when you blow in his face, yet loves hanging his head out a car window going 60 MPH down the road? But just because dogs like hanging their heads out car windows doesn’t mean we should let them do it.

I had a dog, Kirby, who loved to ride in the car and I took him with me as often as I could. I wouldn’t let him hang his head out the window when we were going down the highway, but didn’t think he could get into trouble in town. My car had high seats in the front and I made him ride in the back seat with the back windows rolled up. So, I figured he was safe. As it turned out, I was wrong. One day as I went around a corner, Kirby was excited and leaned out my open window before I knew what he was doing. Thankfully, I was going slow and slammed on the brakes in time to avoid running over him. He was fine, but needless to say, I was shaken and from that moment on, I never roll car windows down all the way when I have a dog with me in the car.

Falling out of a moving vehicle isn’t the only danger for dogs who hang their heads out car windows. A dog’s eyes can become targets for bugs, small rocks, pieces of debris on the roadway and dust. Think about what a small rock can do to your windshield if it hits just right, even at a slow speed. How many little chips does your car grill have from all the tiny rocks that have hit it? Imagine what a rock could do to your dog’s eye, not to mention what the vet bill could do for your wallet. And if your dog has allergies, the dust and pollen rushing into his face isn’t going to help his condition.

Dogs who hang their heads out car windows are also at risk for ear infections from wind blown particles or just by the wind blowing their ears. As their ears flap in the wind, blood can pool in the soft tissue of their ear flaps. The constant flapping of the ears against their head can cause the ear flaps to swell which is painful. If a dog is allowed to hang his head out the car window a lot, scar tissue will form in the soft tissue of the ears. This can damage them permanently and give the dog lifelong ear problems.

Riding in a car for a dog is exciting, with all kinds of smells rushing through an open window. Think about it like this. Imagine all of the sights and smells you’re surrounded with at the county fair. Popcorn, hot dogs, cotton candy, burgers, people laughing and having a good time, eating and going on rides. A county fair is full of new experiences and smells that stimulate us from head to toe. That’s how a dog feels riding down the road in the car. Their senses are on overdrive as they sniff out and see all sorts of things that change as the car moves down the road. But as responsible pet owners, safety should come first, and letting dogs hang their heads out car windows isn’t a good idea.

That’s not saying your dog can’t enjoy their ride in a car. The window only needs to be cracked to allow all the wonderful smells to enter the car and surround your dog. There’s nothing wrong with open windows in the car, if your dog is buckled in like the rest of the family which will keep him from falling out the window and still allow him to sniff all the enticing smells. That way he has the best of both worlds without hanging his head out the car window, and you can concentrate on driving the car.

Letting a dog ride in the bed of a truck isn’t a good idea either. The dog risks injury from falling out of the truck, has increased risk from flying debris and can burn the soft tissue on their paws by standing on the hot metal of the truck bed. Dogs have no idea what a vehicle’s speed means and if they get the urge to jump, they will. If you want to take your dog with you in your truck, please read How to Transport Dogs Safely in Pickup Trucks.

Responsible parents don’t let their children do things that could put them in danger. As responsible pet owners, we shouldn’t put our dog’s safety and health in danger by letting them hang their heads out car windows.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Vehicle Safety and Your Dog


By Ruthie Bently

For most of us, keeping our pets safe is as important to us as keeping our human kids safe is. Now we need to consider the same airbag safety issues we have for our kids, but apply them to our pets. Let me explain. I had always wanted a truck, so when I needed a new vehicle I purchased a used truck. It is a great little truck with bucket seats in front and a full bench seat in back, but it has one drawback: airbags.

Now I am all for safety, but I can do without the airbags. Not only do I have three stepchildren, I have a dog who loves to ride with me everywhere I go. I know I will have issues in an accident because of my height; I won’t be able to get far enough back from the airbag to keep it from deploying in my face. My stepkids will have the same issue, and so will my dear Skye, who loves going everywhere with me if I put her in the front seat. For now Skye will have to ride in the back seat, until I get the airbags de-activated.

I am happy to say that there are many ways to keep your dog safe in a vehicle these days. You can buy a barrier for your vehicle that will keep your dog in the back seat or behind that in the cargo area. When purchasing a barrier, it is a good idea to take the vehicle with you to the store. This way you can have it fitted in the vehicle you are going to use it in.

You can use a harness to secure them in either the front seat (if there are no airbags in the car) or in the back seat. Taking the dog to the store to be fitted is a good idea because there are so many different harnesses on the market, and you want to get the right one. The harness should fit snugly without binding around the dog’s neck or midsection, and they should not be able to wriggle out of it when it is fitted correctly.

If you have a large enough vehicle, you can use a crate or airline kennel in the back of your vehicle to keep your dog safe. You can buy a crate for your vehicle or just use the crate you already have. Your dog should be able to turn around and lay down, without having to bend their knees as they climb into the crate. They don’t have to be able to hold their heads up (that gives them more leverage to be naughty), but they need to be able to lie down and be comfortable, especially if the trip you are taking them on is a long one.

I had a harness for Nimber and ran the seat belt through the back of the harness to keep him in one place. I am happy to say that since none of my other dogs jump around a lot, I have changed my tactics a bit. What I do is get a leash about 24” long, and run the car’s seat belt through the handle. I fasten one half of the seat belt on the driver side to the matching half of the seat belt on the passenger side. By doing this, my dog has lateral movement from left to right; all the way across the back seat of the car. This works in most cars I’ve owned, so it should work in yours as well.

Do you ride a motorcycle and take your dog along? Does your dog love to hang their head out the car window? The last one isn’t a good idea, but it isn’t easy to stop a very determined dog. They now make goggles for dogs that protect their eyes from flying bugs and debris that may be thrown up from the road. They also make hats for dogs, though I think that may be more for decorative use than as a protective measure.

There are many ways to keep our dogs safe in our cars these days; we just need to apply them to have a fun, safe road trip no matter how long the trip takes.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.