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How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Injured in a Car Accident
By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 02/02/2022, edited: 02/02/2022
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One of the scariest things that can happen to a pet parent is their fur-baby getting in a car accident. Not knowing the situation or how severe their injuries are is worrying for anyone with a canine compadre. Tens of thousands of dogs are killed and injured in car accidents each year.
Fortunately, most car accidents involving dogs are avoidable, and there are steps you can take to ensure your dog isn't badly harmed in a car-on-car collision. Here are some ways to prevent your dog from getting injured in a car accident.
Keep your dog restrained while driving
When traveling with your pup as a passenger, you need to provide the proper restraints. It's worth noting that it's illegal to travel with a dog unrestrained in some states due to animal cruelty laws. However, in some states, like California, there are no laws prohibiting drivers from traveling with an unrestrained dog in an enclosed vehicle.
Traveling with an unrestrained dog is the same as driving without a seatbelt. It puts your dog at risk of being thrown from the vehicle or injuring themselves on the dashboard during a crash. They could also be thrown into another person, injuring both pup and passenger.
It's essential you fit your car with a harness or car seat for your dog to keep them safe in case of an accident.
Brush up on your dog's training
Dogs seem to love chasing cars, a concerning behavior that stems from their hunting and territorial instincts. Dogs often get in car accidents when they get loose from a yard or leash and dart into a busy road. One of the best ways to prevent this is brushing up on your pup's training.
Don't let them off-leash around cars
The easiest way to prevent car accidents involving dogs is to avoid taking your dog off-leash when near a road. Unless they're exceptionally well trained, most dogs can't resist the thrill of the chase when off-leash. Among the biggest offenders are herding breeds like Border Collies and German Shepherds.
If your dog loves chasing cars, avoid walking them in parks next to roads. Try to choose larger city parks or parks with designated fenced-in dog runs. Many state parks also allow dogs on trails, which are ideal for lengthy walks away from busy streets.
Install a backseat dog barrier
Even if your dog is secure in your car, they can still be distracting. A dog on a harness could try to jump into the front seat or cause a distraction, which could cause you to crash.
One of the best ways to travel with your dog in the car is to install a backseat barrier. These barriers come in many shapes and sizes but usually involve putting a cage-like partition between your front seats and backseat. If you have an SUV, you can also purchase a barrier that separates your backseat from your trunk.
Supervise your dog when playing in your yard
If Buddy is a bit of an escape artist, it might be worth keeping an eye on them when they're playing in your yard. Securing your yard can be tricky, and it's cruel to leave a dog tied up outside all day. So, for many pet parents, keeping their dog from escaping isn't as easy as it sounds.
The best way to prevent your dog escaping is to watch them when they're outside. By keeping tabs on your Terrier, they'll be less likely to make a daring escape, and if they do, you'll be on hand to bring them back immediately.
If your dog spends all their time outdoors, you might want to reconsider the situation. Dogs that are left outside are more likely to pick up a parasite or have a run-in with the local wildlife.
Keep your dog's head inside the car window!
While dogs hanging out of car windows seem to be loving life, this is dangerous behavior that could harm your dog or cause a crash. Oncoming traffic is a real danger to your dog, especially on narrow roads.
Debris could fly off the road, hitting your dog at high speeds, potentially causing blindness or head trauma. Strong wind can also damage and irritate your dog's ears. Dogs have been also known to jump out of the window of moving vehicles, injuring themselves and causing car accidents.
The cost of treatment if your dog is in a car accident
Car accidents are very stressful for dogs, and their injuries can be costly to treat. Car accidents can range in severity from a broken bone to a fatal injury.
Here's a rough breakdown* of the potential vet costs associated with a car accident:
- Wellness/physical exam: $50–$100
- X-rays: $150–$250
- Short hospitalization: $500–$2,000
- Broken bones/fractures: $1,000–$2,000
- Painkillers: $50–$150
- Head trauma: $1,000–$2,000
If you're worried about your dog getting in a car accident, consider taking out pet insurance. An accident and illness policy can protect your dog in case of an emergency and reimburse you for up to 100% of the cost of vet care.
*All prices are estimates and may vary significantly depending on your dog's age and breed, as well as your location.