For most pups, the best part of a car ride is feeling the breeze in their furry faces as they stick their head out the window. Despite the feel good nature of this pleasurable experience, it's actually a very dangerous habit.
In the early days of automobiles, most cars did not have windshields and their top speed was approximately 45 mph. Given those conditions, drivers wore goggles to protect their eyes. Now that we have windshields to protect us, you wouldn't consider sticking your unprotected head out the window at 45 mph. Then why let your dog?
Allowing your dog to let it stick its head out the window is a very dangerous habit. Their eyes are exposed to dirt, rocks, dust and other debris. These materials can easily puncture and scratch your dog's eyes. A line of pet goggles has come out, which are to help prevent these types of injuries. However, even if you can train your dog not to paw them off his head, there are still many other dangers when your dog's head is out the window while driving.
Damage to the ears is another big concern. When the dog's ears flap in the wind, his soft ear flaps (pinnae) can easily become irritated, swell and become very tender. The constant and rapid flapping of the pinnae against your dog's head from high-speed winds causes trauma to the ear and results in swelling. Repeated trauma such as this can cause lifelong problems for your pup.
Allowing your dog to stick his head out the window can also lead to more severe outcomes, such as falling out of the car or getting his head stuck in the window opening. Taking a turn a bit too fast, traveling over bumpy terrain or an overly excited pup can cause your dog to lose balance and easily fall out of the window. These types of incidents occur more frequently than one might imagine and can cause severe injury or death to dogs.
It should go without saying, but another very dangerous idea is to allow your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. All of the dangers of sticking its head out the window from inside the car are increased, since the bed of a pickup offers little or no protection from wind, debris or falls. In addition, a pickup's metal bed can reach dangerously high temperatures on hot days, which can cause damage to the soft tissue on a dog's paws.
The best place for your dog to ride is in the back seat or cargo area of your vehicle, properly restrained of course. Utilizing a pet safety belt, car seat, vehicle pet barrier or a travel crate is the best ways to ensure that your pup's travels are happy and safe. Sure, crack the window, but no heads out!
TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches, and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.
Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel.