Do dogs need seat belts?
Whether traveling to the vet or venturing on an exciting road trip, most pets will take a ride in the car eventually. Dogs, just like humans, should be safe and comfortable on their journey.
One of the best and most common methods to secure your dog is through a seat belt. They affix in a few different ways to the back seat of your car so that your dog stays comfortable yet secure. It’s crucial to find one that matches the needs and size of your dog.
What to know before you buy a dog seat belt
There are three main ways a seat belt attaches to your car. A clip attachment is the most common. In this version, the end locks into the seat belt buckle while the other connects to your dog’s harness. These are inexpensive and easy to use but best for dogs who are calm and used to car rides, as excessive movement may lead to the belt unbuckling.
A popular alternative is a tether attachment that wraps around a headrest or seat belt. This is better for eager or nervous dogs, though these may require more adjusting since extra slack is more dangerous in this arrangement. Still, whether or not it’s a viable option depends on your car’s makeup.
A less common option is the latch bar attachment, in which a latch in the crease of the seats secures hyper dogs. However, this option takes more effort to affix.
Finding the right size of the seat belt is critical and impacted by your dog’s size and the space available in the back seat. They should be allowed some movement to sit, lay down or stand up, but not so much that they have free range of the back. They shouldn’t be able to drop down behind a seat or climb forward toward the front. Most companies offer a size chart that caters to a dog’s weight or breed.
Ensure your dog seat belt is up to the task of protecting your dog. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal standard, but the Center for Pet Safety regularly tests dog seat belts (with dummies) to evaluate their effectiveness. The CPS logo appears on approved products.
What to look for in a quality dog seat belt
The seat belt should affix to a harness, not a collar, when the dog is riding in the back. The harness should be comfortable and snug. Some dog seat belts come with a harness included in your purchase. You can use these harnesses for dog walks in some cases.
If it’s not included, you’ll need one before taking your dog in the car. Depending on where, when and how long you’re traveling, look for a breathable harness to allow for comfort and airflow. Again, do not secure your dog by the collar.
Some seat belts allow the length to be adjusted, which is helpful if you’re investing in a seat belt for a puppy or frequently traveling in different cars.
Nylon and polyester are typical, recommended materials that have proven strong and durable over time. They don’t fray or tear easily. What’s more, the stitching should be reinforced to offer added protection. Inspect your seat belt before every ride to confirm its quality.
How much you can expect to spend on a dog seat belt
Individual clip seat belts for dogs typically cost around $15, while those that include a harness run over $35-$50.
Dog seat belt FAQ
What safety precautions should I take when riding with my dog?
A. Your dog should always ride in the back seat. Adjust the seat belt length so they can change their position but can’t move far from their seat. You can open a window slightly for a breeze but don’t let them stick their head out the window.
What are some alternatives to dog seat belts?
A. Some smaller dogs may not take well to seat belts, particularly active or nervous ones who could become easily tangled. Some dog owners may find more use in a dog carrier or dog car seat. These buckle into the seat using the car’s seat belt but offer a more enclosed space for smaller, active riders.
What’s the best dog seat belt to buy?
Top dog seat belt
What you need to know: This is a secure, easy-to-use seat belt tether that provides both comfort and safety for your dog.
What you’ll love: The swivel clip allows for increased maneuverability and comfort in the back seat, avoids tangles and is lightweight yet strong.
What you should consider: The harness is not included and it takes time to secure a dog.
Top dog seat belt for the money
What you need to know: This is a simple, budget-friendly seat belt tether that adjusts in size and is great for experienced riders.
What you’ll love: It’s a solid value for an adjustable and safe seat belt. It’s ideal for smaller or medium-size dogs who are calm in the car.
What you should consider: It may not withstand aggressive riders or anxious chewers.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a popular and safe dog seat belt that locks right into the buckle and provides security and peace of mind.
What you’ll love: This is a durable and adjustable nylon option clips easily into most car buckles and features a swivel attachment to allow for some movement.
What you should consider: It’s somewhat pricey and not for dogs who move around frequently.
Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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