In the last decade, auto innovation has come far in keeping us safe on the roads in the event of an accident. With all of the latest safety features that are becoming more common on the roads, highway fatalities continue to be on the decline. But in spite of all these improvements, nothing takes the place of properly securing yourself with a seat belt—and that goes for your pets, too. According to some data, 84 percent of dog owners travel without restraining their dogs—meaning that less than 20 percent of people use proper pet safety restraints when traveling. Even if you do restrain your pets, however, accidents still happen. It’s a situation that pet owners never want to think about, but each year, thousands of pets are involved in the 6 million automobile accidents that happen on average in the United States.
Luckily, taking the proper precautions to keep your pet safe can prepare you in times of an emergency. Many pet injuries and fatalities can largely be avoided by properly restraining pets, and by knowing what to do if you find yourself in an accident with your four-legged family members. Here are our recommended steps and tips for what to do in that situation so that everyone has the best chance of walking away as unharmed as possible:
Keeping Your Pet Safe On The Road
Let’s face it: your pet probably loves to stick its head out the window as you cruise down the road. However, letting your dog roam freely through the car is not the safest way for them to accompany you on a road trip. You always wear your seatbelt in the car, and your pet deserves the same level of safety. Let’s talk about the different kinds of safety gear and which types are appropriate for your pet, according to The Bark:
Harness Seat Belt:
Harness seat belts are great for dogs who are well-behaved and calm during car rides. They are adjustable, so they work for dogs of various sizes. Your dog will be able to sit comfortably in the back seat of your vehicle while having a small range of motion. If your dog tends to chew on its leash or harness, this may not be the best option for you.
If you have a relatively well-behaved dog that can be energetic, this may be the best solution. The zipline harness allows your dog to sit or lay down, but it doesn’t allow them to move freely around the car. This safety solution works for dogs of all sizes.
If your dog is relaxed but needs to be in a confined space, a dog crate is the way to go. Just make sure to get the right size for your pet. They should be able to stand and turn around comfortably. If your dog gets nervous, you can cover the crate with a blanket to help them calm down. This option also works for cats.
Plush Carry Box:
This option is excellent for nervous pups. The carry box has no top, so your dog can keep an eye on you while still being securely attached by a harness. Unfortunately, the carry box is intended only for smaller dogs.
The dog guard is great for pets you trust to move around freely. The netting attaches to your vehicle’s floor and ceiling creating a secure area for your dog in the back of your car. This method works for dogs of all sizes, but you must have back seats that fold down or a passenger-accessible trunk.
If you have an older dog who likes to lounge around, the hammock is perfect. The straps attach to the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat. Hammocks are for dogs of all sizes; just be sure to purchase one that can support your dog’s weight.
A backseat barrier is perfect for dogs who feel anxious when restrained. The fabric covers the area between the driver and passenger seat so your dog won’t be thrown if you brake suddenly. Your dog will be able to have the backseat to themselves so they can move freely. This option is only for large dogs as small dogs could slip.
All of these convenient options make it easy to keep your pet safe on the road. Plus, when your dog is safe, you’re less likely to be distracted while driving. Keep yourself, your pet, and other motorists as safe as possible. At Elephant, we like to reward our safe drivers. Learn more about our responsible driver discounts.
How to Help Your Pet in the Event of an Accident
In the aftermath of an accident, it’s important to assess the situation and your surroundings. First and foremost, this means checking that you aren’t hurt or in danger. You can’t help your pet if you yourself are injured, after all—so ensuring your safety first is critical.
Next, it’s important to check if other passengers and your pets are safe and in good hands. Because many pets are likely to flee out of fear in the event of an accident, it’s crucial to keep them in their crates or other restraining devices.
Once your pets are safely controlled, it’s important to move to safety if you’re in the middle of the road. Quickly assess if your pet has sustained any spinal injuries by checking if there’s any pain in their back or neck or loss of function in their legs.
If spinal injury seems to be a possibility, you should treat the situation as an emergency and contact a clinic immediately. Call someone who may be able to bring your pet to an emergency pet care provider. If you’re unable to locate a helping hand—or if you’re traveling far from home—it’s worth calling local clinics to see if they offer transportation services.
If your pet hasn’t sustained spinal injuries, it’s still important to check for other complications. For starters, symptoms of shock include pale or white gums, rapid breathing, or a faint heartbeat. In this situation, position your pet on his or her side while keeping their airways open, keep them warm with a blanket or other cover, and keep an eye on their breathing. If your pet is bleeding profusely, it’s important to stop it with a makeshift tourniquet. Less serious bleeding can be stopped with gauze, Band-Aids, or other soft material. In the event of a broken bone, try your best to stabilize the break and keep your pet from moving. Finally, if your pet has glass or shrapnel in their skin, it’s best to leave the removal up to a vet.
As these situations illustrate, it’s always important to keep a pet-specific first-aid kit in your car.
Keep your pet safe by being prepared
It’s true that accidents are always stressful situations, and if your four-legged family member is unfortunate enough to be involved, it can make things feel much worse. We know how much our customers care about their fur babies, which is why Elephant offers Pet Injury Coverage to help cover the costs of vet bills if they’re injured in an accident. Best of all, it’s automatically included in every Elephant policy. Get a quote with us to make sure both you and your fuzzy loved ones are safe.