Drivers urged to 'buckle-up' pets in carsAnimals need to be protected in a crash

19 June 2007

Pets should be 'buckled-up' in the car to avoid causing serious injury to themselves and their owners in a crash, a leading veterinary charity has warned.

PDSA said that in a vehicle involved in a crash at 30mph, an unrestrained 50lb (22.5kg) border collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to a polar bear.

The veterinary charity, which provides free care to sick and injured pets whose owners cannot afford vets' fees, issued the warning in a bid to keep pets and owners safe over the summer holidays.

According to the Department of Transport, 200,000 car accidents a year occur as a result of distractions within the vehicle, including pets, children and insects, so PDSA is also recommending training animals so they are used to car travel.

Safety harness

Large dogs should be strapped in with a specially-designed car safety harness which fits around the animal's chest, back and shoulders and which is then clipped into an ordinary seat belt, the charity said.

Smaller dogs and other pets should be secured in a well ventilated pet carrier, which can be secured with a seatbelt or wedged on the floor of the vehicle.

The charity also recommends training pets from an early age to be used to cars, driving at a constant speed to avoid frightening them, taking dogs for walks before journeys, making regular stops and rewarding them with treats afterwards.

And PDSA warns owners they should never let a dog lean its head out of the window, as it could be hurt by stones kicked up from the road, other vehicles or roadside objects.

Free guide

Ahead of the summer holidays, PDSA has published a free guide - Holiday Health for Pets - to help owners look after their pets during holiday excursions.

Steven Leonard, TV presenter and PDSA veterinary surgeon, said: 'Cars are an alien environment to pets, but by being patient and taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure that a car journey with your pet is safe and enjoyable for all.'

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