Does my dog need to really wear a seat belt while in the car?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – my vet essentially said in so many words that I was irresponsible if I didn’t use a seat belt while driving with my dog in the car. Is this true? He would never jump out.


Scott M. New York


Hi – thanks for your email Scott. You wrote asking my opinion if dogs should wear safety belts while in a car or truck.

The answer is yes. I’ve seen a lot of dogs injured by jumping out of the car even thought the owners NEVER thought their dog would jump out. Something will set them off and they will jump. Depending on how fast you are going and where they jump – determines their degree of injuries. I’ve seen dogs jump into traffic and be immediately killed.

I’ve also seen many dogs injured by sudden starts, swerves and stops. Dogs can be thrown off the seat, into the dash, etc. I’ve seen fractures, head trauma and other severe injuries from this type of trauma.

Also – I’ve seen dogs cause accidents. I was at an ER clinic recently and someone brought in a dog that was in a car when it hit another car. The owner/driver of the car was injured and went to the hospital and the dog was brought in by a friend. The story was the dog was riding on the lap of the owner – the driver needed to swerve and couldn’t do it because the dog was in the way. They hit another car – the dog and owner were both injured.

So…yes, the answer is – I believe in seat belts or safety harnesses. Alternatively – pets should be in a crate or pet taxi while in the car.

An article that might be helpful to you is How to Choose a Dog Car Seat Belt Harness.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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