Many dog owners don't think much about letting their canine companions ride with them unrestrained in the car. However, this can be quite dangerous; unrestrained dogs are at a risk of serious injury in the event of a car accident and can also be a major distraction to drivers. By securing your dog in a car seat while your car is in motion, you can ensure a safer ride for everybody involved.
Never bought a dog car seat before? Well, there are a few things you'll want to be on the lookout for as you shop around.
Weight Minimums and Maximums
Not all car seats can accommodate dogs of all sizes. In fact, most dog car seats are categorized by their minimum and maximum weight thresholds. As you shop, then, narrow your search down to seats that fall within your dog's weight range. If you have a puppy that you know is going to grow significantly (for example, a 10-pound dog that will eventually grow to 40 pounds), try looking for a seat that has a wider range. This may save you from needing to replace the seat later on.
Foam Protection Thickness
In the event of an accident, of course you want your dog to be protected. Many dog car seats these days come with some kind of foam protection that surrounds the dog. For the most protection, consider looking for a car seat that provides at least a two-inch foam "cocoon" around your dog, which will absorb the most possible impact in the event of a crash. Avoid seats with foam thicknesses of less than two inches, or seats that don't have protective foam surrounding them at all.
Method of Securing in Car
Just as with an infant car seat, there needs to be a way to secure a dog carrier in the car so that it won't be easily dislodged in the event of an abrupt stop or even a collision. Most dog seats will work with the car's existing seat belt system, though some will simply slip over the seat or may have no real way of securing at all. For the most protection for your dog, look for a car seat that will utilize your car's seat belts.
Availability of Replacement Covers
As you shop for a dog car seat, you may also want to consider whether or not replacement covers are readily available for the seat you end up buying. This is especially important if you have a dog who gets easily excited in the car and has accidents frequently. This way, in the event that your dog soils the seat cover, you can easily and inexpensively replace it rather than having to replace the entire seat. Consider buying a few replacement covers with the seat itself so that you have them on-hand if you need them.
Options for Cleaning
Last but not least, make sure that the car seat you buy for your dog can be easily cleaned and disinfected from time to time. Most fabric car seats are machine washable, which makes keeping the seat clean a breeze. On the other hand, other seats may only be able to be spot-treated or wiped down with a cloth. For the most sanitary option, look for a dog car seat that can be tossed in your washing machine.
As you can see, there's a lot to keep in mind as you shop for a dog car seat. By following this advice, however, you'll be able to find a seat that's perfect for your dog in no time. From there, you can keep your dog and yourself safer while on the road.