Is It Safe to Allow My Dog to Put Their Head Out the Car Window?

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We’ve all seen the adorable pictures of people’s pets sticking their heads out of a car window on a warm summer’s day. But while your dog might enjoy feeling the wind in their hair, it often isn’t safe to allow them to ride that way. In fact, they might be in danger of losing an eye, getting severely injured, or even having a fatal accident. Today, we’ll have a closer look at why you should always encourage your pooch to keep its head inside your vehicle.

Is It Safe for My Dog to Put Their Head Out of the Car Window?

Every pet is different. Some hate being in the car. Others love it. And for many dogs, there is no better sense of freedom than taking in the smells of the neighborhood to the soundtrack of ears flapping in the wind. It’s easier for big dogs to get their heads out there, but a lot of little dogs would like to see what’s going on out there, too.

It may seem less risky to allow a big dog to put their noggin out in the wind. That’s not necessarily true. No matter the size and weight of your pooch, you should always make sure they keep their head inside, so they don’t risk injuring themselves. If you let them stick their head out of your vehicle, they might decide to jump out while you’re driving, or they might fall out when you stop without warning. Plus, having their head out the window usually means that their paws can end up somewhere around the window controls, and that could be a recipe for disaster.

What’s more, insects could cause a distraction or fly into your pooch’s eye, or the pet could get trapped between your auto and another vehicle or object. To keep your pooch out of harm’s way, you need to make sure they can’t get out of the vehicle, whether they want to or not.

Jumping or Falling

Even if your pet is extremely well-trained, you can’t be sure that they won’t jump out of the vehicle if they see, smell, or hear something tempting such as a squirrel or another dog. Similarly, a sudden stop could cause them to fall out of the vehicle and injure themselves. Although some people argue that their pet is too big to fall or jump out, you wouldn’t want to be proven wrong while you’re driving 45 mph on a busy street.

This doesn’t mean that they have to suffer from the heat. You can turn on the air conditioning or even air out your vehicle if your pooch is sitting in its seat with a harness on.

Insects and Debris in the Air

A less acknowledged danger is that something could fly into your pet’s eyes. There might be lots of insects and debris in the air. If you drive quickly and your pooch gets hit in the eye by a flying object, this could become embedded in the eyeball and cause significant damage. In fact, your pet will almost certainly need to see the vet, and they may even lose their eye.

Sideswiping and Hitting Objects

Have you ever been overtaken by an impatient driver or a bike winding in and out of other vehicles? If so, you’ll know that not everybody keeps the recommended distance, and some people drive very close to others. If your pet is leaning out of the vehicle and someone attempts to overtake you without maintaining their distance, the dog could be crushed between two vehicles.

Similarly, not all roads have space on either side, and there might be branches, lampposts, and other objects close to the road. It only takes one protruding branch to turn a trip to the dog park into a vet visit.

What Else Should I Consider?

There are many ways to protect your pooch on the road and maximize the fun of a road trip. Most importantly, you should make sure that your pet is restrained whenever they are riding with you. There are multiple reasons for this.

VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness/Image Credit: VavoPaw Store on Amazon

Most importantly, restraining your pet will keep them from becoming a distraction. A 2019 study by Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll found that drivers with unrestrained dogs in the vehicle exhibited more than twice as much unsafe driving behavior, time spent distracted more than doubled, and stress levels for both drivers and pups increased. The best way to avoid all that is by restraining them. Barriers and hammocks can keep them away from the driver’s seat, but don’t do much to protect them in the event of a crash. For small dogs, a carrier or crate is a better option. For bigger dogs, harnesses and seatbelts are a good solution.

Drivers should also be aware that pets can get dehydrated quickly, especially in very hot conditions. Don’t leave your pooch alone in your vehicle (especially when the weather is hot) and always bring enough water for them. You should also consider taking frequent breaks and letting the animal stretch their legs during long journeys.

Your dog may love sticking their head out of the window on car rides, but you have to consider whether it’s really worth the risk. They could jump or fall out of the vehicle or be harmed by projectiles and other objects outside. For these reasons, we recommend that you keep your pooch inside the vehicle properly restrained. Following this advice will help keep you away from the vet and give you more time with them to decide which vehicle best suits their personality and other important things.