Heads up! To avoid danger, keep your dog’s head inside the car

Rare is the pooch who doesn’t love a road trip. For most dogs, the best part of the trip is sticking their fuzzy heads out the window to feel the breeze and smell all the great scents. In spite of how great it feels, allowing your pup to put his head out the window while you’re driving is actually very dangerous, for a variety of reasons.

Times (and cars) have changed

Most early cars were built without windshields, and had a max speed of only about 45 mph. Drivers wore goggles to protect their eyes. Today, 45 mph is the lower end of the speed spectrum on most roads. You wouldn’t consider driving without a windshield, or putting your head out the window as you cruised around town–or worse, down the highway. Then why let your dog?

Eye hazards 

When your dog puts his head out the window, his eyes are exposed to dirt, rocks, dust and other debris, which can cause abrasions, scratches, and even puncture wounds to his eyes. True, you can purchase pet goggles to protect his eyes. However, these can come loose, creating other hazards, or your dog can decide he doesn’t like them and remove them himself.

Ear hazards

Surprisingly, your dog can suffer ear damage from putting his head out the window. His soft ear flaps (called pinnae) can become irritated, swollen, and tender from flapping in the wind, and repeated occurrences can cause serious long-term ear problems in the future.

Severe injury . . . or worse

Even if you are careful, there are very real, very serious hazards that should be considered. If the window is just a bit too far open, your dog could fall out of the car if you go over a bump, take a sharp turn, or stop short. If he sees something extra exciting, he might even jump out on his own. If the window is a little too far closed, or someone mistakenly pushes the window button, your dog could get his head stuck or his neck pinned in the window. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred for all of these reasons.

The takeaway

The safest and therefore best place for your dog to ride in your vehicle is the back seat or cargo area. For added safety, you should use proper restraints designed specifically for pets, such as a pet safety belt, a travel crate, a pet car seat, or a pet barrier. So, crack the window and cruise along–with all heads safely inside the car!

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