Dog strapped into dog seat belt in car

Key takeaway

Dog seat belts protect your pup by securing their harness to the seat of your car, thus preventing risk of ejection, distraction-related accidents, and more. Dog seat belts are recommended and even required in some states.

We all know how important wearing your seat belt is. You don’t drive away before making sure that everyone in your car is securely strapped in their seat belt. But why do only humans wear seat belts in the car? What about our four-legged best friends who are sitting in the back seat?

People love to bring their dogs with them everywhere they go, whether that be out to lunch with friends or on a cross-country road trip. But driving with a dog is not always the safest option —that is, unless they’re wearing a dog seat belt. Dog seat belts can prevent you, your dog, and other passengers in the car from getting hurt in the chance of an accident or a sudden stop. A dog seat belt can also stop your dog from sticking their head out the window as you drive and getting hurt.

If you’ve never heard of a dog seat belt before, you probably have a lot of questions, and don’t worry —we’ll answer them all below. In this post, we’ll be going over what a dog car seat belt is, the benefits of dog seat belts, dog seat belt risks, and more. To learn more about car safety when it comes to driving with your dog, continue reading the post, or use the links below to skip to a section of your choice.

What Is A Dog Seat Belt?

A dog seat belt is a safety harness that has a loop for seat belts to go through. It is a way to properly restrain your dog while you drive and keep them secure in a seat. But, there are a variety of different types of seat belts for dogs, so it’s important to find one that is safe for your pup.1

Many dog seat belts are designed to be used with your car’s existing seat belt straps, which are not meant for dogs. Some of them can even cause your dog to fly off the seat if they’re not strapped in securely enough.

A better type of dog seat belt is one that is more heavy-duty and has thick, padded straps that will distribute the impact force as evenly as possible. The tethers of the seat belt should be secured at the dog’s back, not their neck, and they should be able to both sit and lie down while wearing it.

If an accident or sudden stop occurs, the seat belt should evenly spread out the force of the leash across your dog’s chest and back, and reduce the force on their neck. The straps of the seat belt should be long enough that your dog can sit comfortably in the car, but short enough to effectively stop your dog from hitting the seat in front of them in the event of a crash or sudden stop.

A good dog seat belt is one that your dog will feel comfortable in, so they can still experience the joy of riding in the car– while staying safe, of course.

Do Dogs Need Seat Belts?

Using dog seat belts can offer safety benefits for both dogs and drivers. An unrestrained pet in a car can be considered a hazard for many reasons.

For instance, if you’re going 50 mph with an 80 pound unrestrained dog in the car and make a sudden stop, that dog can quickly turn into a 2,400 pound projectile. And you can only imagine how dangerous of a situation that will become.

Dog seat belts are so important that some states even require dogs to be harnessed in the car. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are all states that require dogs to either wear a seat belt or be contained in a secured area while driving.

Graphic listing the benefits of dog seat belts

Dog Seat Belt Benefits

There are many benefits of using seat belts for dogs, such as:

  • Prevents jumping out of window
  • Reduces risk of injury upon airbag deployment
  • Reduces risk of dog ejecting from vehicle in a crash
  • Reduces distracted driving
  • Prevents dogs from being injured by external debris if the windows are open

Dog Seat Belt Risks

Although there are many benefits of dog seat belts, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any risks. Few have been crash tested, so, many dog seat belts haven’t been proven to be effective.

However, the Center for Pet Safety did conduct tests using dog harnesses to determine their effectiveness.2 The tests were done with specifically designed crash test dummy dogs in three different sizes: 25 pounds, 45 pounds, and 75 pounds. A few of the harnesses passed the safety test, but since there are no government or industry standards for dog seat belts, there is no way for companies to label their products as “crash-tested”.

A good alternative to dog seat belts is crating your dog in the car. Crating your dog will keep them restrained in the car and prevent them from distracting you or sticking their head out the window. However, it’s still possible for your dog to get injured inside the crate in the case of an accident.

Graphic listing car safety tips

Car Safety Tips

You keep your dog safe inside your house by feeding and caring for them. You keep your dog safe when you’re out on a walk by keeping them on a leash. So why should a car be any different? It’s just as crucial to keep your dog safe inside a car as it is to keep them safe anywhere else, so here are some care safety tips you should be aware of:

  • Unsafe vs. safe places in the car1
    • Your lap and the passenger seat are both unsafe places for a dog in a car. If your dog is on your lap, they can block your view of the road and distract you. If your dog is in the passenger seat, they can get injured in the event that the airbag goes off.
    • A crate is a much safer place to keep a dog in a car. Crates will keep your dog safe while driving, and some even have padding to add extra comfort and security.
  • Not leaving dog in the car unattended
    • You should never leave your dog in your car unattended. Leaving your dog unattended in the car endangers their health and well-being due to cold, heat, lack of food and water, and lack of proper ventilation.
  • Keep a dog safety/first aid kit in the car
    • It’s always a good idea to keep a dog first aid kit on hand in your car. Accidents happen, and when they do, you want to be prepared. A dog first aid kit can contain things like ointment, liquid bandage, and antimicrobial spray.

Dog Seat Belts: Frequently Asked Questions

Should dogs wear seat belts?

It’s a good idea for a dog to wear a seat belt whenever they’re in the car. A dog seat belt keeps your dog safe and secure while you’re driving, reduces distracted driving, and prevents them from getting hurt if an accident or sudden stop occurs.

What is the safest seat belt for dogs?

There are many different kinds of seat belts for dogs, but the safest models3 include:

  • Sleepypod Clickit Sport
  • Sleepypod Clickit Terrain
  • ZuGoPet The Rocketeer Pack

Where should a dog sit in the car?

The safest place for a dog to sit in a car is either in a crate or on the back seat, as long as they’re secured with a dog seat belt. Keeping a dog in the front seat or passenger seat is dangerous for both the dog and the driver.1

Dog wearing a seatbelt while looking out the window

Final Notes

As a dog owner, your main priority is to make sure your dog is happy, healthy, and safe at all times. And that includes when they’re in the car. As much as dogs may enjoy getting to roam around the car as you drive, keeping them safe with a dog seat belt is much more important. Plus, with the right kind of seat belt, your dog will still be comfortable in the car and get to enjoy a nice ride safely in the backseat.

In addition to keeping your dog safe in the car with a seat belt, you also need to keep them healthy by bringing them to regular veterinarian appointments. But rather than physically bringing your dog to the vet to get checked, you can bring the vet to you with Dutch.com.

Dutch is a convenient solution for pet care that provides pet telehealth appointments. You can access Dutch from anywhere and get your dog seen and treated for a myriad of different conditions.

Our vets will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that works for your dog. We’ll also make sure that any medication you're prescribed will get delivered directly to you, so there’s no having to worry about picking it up.

References

  1. Schamble, Melody. “How to Keep Your Dog Safer in the Car.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 16 Feb. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/dog-seat-belts-what-you-need-to-know-to-keep-your-dog-safe

  2. “2013 Harness Crash Test Videos.” Science of Pet Safety, https://www.centerforpetsafety.org/test-results/harnesses/2013-harness-crash-test-videos/

  3. Linkov, Jon. “How to Keep Your Pets Safe in a Car.” Consumer Reports, https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/keep-pets-safe-in-the-car/