Seat Belts For Pets
Most family pets should be restrained whenever they are outside the home. A well trained working dog may be the only exception. Restraint usually means a fence or leash.
Special care should be taken when transporting a dog or cat by vehicle. Pet crates seem to be assumed to be the safest way to transport a pet. We have not seen research to confirm this, so if you have any, please share.
At Iowa Pet Adoptions, we generally use crates for cats and seatbelts for dogs. Cats are generally smaller than dogs, so their crates more easily fit inside a car. Cats likely could be trained to use a seatbelt.
Seatbelts for pets serve the same function as they do for people:
- prevent the pet from being thrown, possibly through a window, or from injuring the driver or passenger
- prevent accidents, by preventing free roaming dogs from distracting the driver
- prevent the pet from running away from the scene of an accident, or possible harm to the pet from emergency personnel seeking to protect themselves
The dog seatbelts we have seen all have a thick strap, vertically along the chest. There are loops which wrap around the legs, and no loop around the neck. This causes pressure to be applied to the chest and legs, rather than the neck.
Some dog seatbelts have a large loop which the seatbelt winds through, others have a second leash like piece, one end which snaps into the seatbelt and the other end clips to the seatbelt.
Dog seatbelts generally function as a harness when they are used for walking. They also are great for helping redirect naughty dogs or puppies, because pulling on the harness does not apply pressure to the neck.
Dog seatbelts can range from $7 - $75. More expensive versions claim to be crash tested. The ones we buy are also the least expensive we have found.
PetSupplies.com has the lowest pricing we have found for seatbelts. They often have 15% off sales. PetSupplies.com is also a low cost leader for dog crates, when the cost of shipping is considered. Again, look for discounts. MrRebates.com is a good source for sale information.
Caution: The main problem with pet seatbelts is pets can step on the belt release button, releasing the belt. If the pet unbuckles while the car is moving, pull over and rebuckle the pet. After the vehicle has arrived at its destination, always check to be sure the belt is still buckled before opening the door, or you may be chasing your dog down the street! Some seatbelts attempt to fix this by supplying a piece which covers the buckle release button, but none we used work well. We have tried covering the buckle release button with homemade covers, fashioned from cardboard and packing tape.