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Travel Article


Friday, April 2nd 2010

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Car Window Dangers?

Author: Wiki Pet

Pet Travel Articles
Dogs Head Out of Car Window Dangerous?
A bright and sunny spring day, always perfect for a ride in the car. Even better for your dog who will love the smells and the nice cool breeze on his nose as you drive down the road. There aren't many more entertaining things for most dogs than the rigorous sniffing of the exciting new smells. Nothing pleases our four legged passengers more than sticking their head as far as it will go out the window, ears and tongue flapping in the wind, slobbering vigorously, all while trying to suck in that forced air at the speed of delivery. What an impossible task!

While bunches of fun, this activity has some inherent dangers you should be aware of. Foreign Objects In the Eye, foreign objects in the nose, and falling from moving vehicles are common injuries for these aerial travelers who may get distracted by the action and forget to hang on!

Why do they do it?

The dog's brain is "wired" to interpret smells much the same as our brain is wired to interpret language and interpret logic. A large portion of a dog's brain is devoted to the identification and locating of smells, and most dogs enjoy this activity thoroughly. Scenting is a chemical operation in the pet's limbic system and the average dog has 200 million scent receptors. When you compare that to the measly 5 million common in humans, you see that there is a whole world of scents the dogs are "reading", 97.5% of which we may never even notice. The nose transmits scents to the limbic system (a system of brain structures which support a variety of bodily functions such as emotion, behavior, long-term memory, and olfaction - sense of smell), which drives a strong emotional response from the dog. Compare a dog's aerial sniffing frenzy to a humans experience on a fabulous rollercoaster. The wind in your hair, the emotional response with the changes in gravity and direction, and the long-term memory of the thrilling experience all closely resemble the reasoning behind your dog's fixation on window acrobatics.

If they love it so much, why should I stop them from having fun?

Well, this just happens to be one of the most common causes of foreign objects in the eyes of dogs. Dirt and debris can easily find its way into a traveling dog's eye and adhere to the surface of the eye, becoming trapped behind the eyelids. This condition is particularly common in dogs with prominent eyes such as the Pekingese. One possible solution for dogs is to buy them doggie goggles to keep their eyes protected and still allow them to enjoy the air. You can read more about Foreign Objects In the Eye here on Wiki Pet By following the link. There, you will find lots of information regarding symptoms, treatments, and other related conditions.

Possibly the most concerning issue with traveling with an aerial pet is the possibility for the dog to fall out of the window. Many things can cause a pet to be expelled from a moving vehicle including, road hazards, loss of balance, a quick turn made by the driver, and some dogs may actually even jump from the vehicle given the correct motivation. Remember that most dogs lack the ability to logically determine the risk of an action, which leaves them unable to think "hum, this looks like a BAD idea".

A side note

Owners of the toy breeds should be aware that traveling with a dog on your lap is highly un-safe, and can cause accidents. Dogs want to sniff air and look through the windows while traveling and in order to do that from the drivers lap, they have to be in a position that will impede your vision. I have even seen dogs with paws up on the steering wheel while driving! In the event of an accident, if deployed, the airbag will almost certainly kill this 4-15lb dog. Even in accidents where the airbags are not deployed, the fragile bone structure of the toy breeds leaves them susceptible to serious injury when being tossed around in a crashing vehicle.

Possible Solutions

With this in mind, great practices would be to keep your windows rolled down to a point which will only allow your pet to get the tip their nose out of the window to prevent them from hanging their entire head outside of the car. This will reduce the opportunity for objects to enter the dog's eye. Securing your pet with a travel harness while traveling (sold at regular pet stores) will also provide a higher level of safety for your pet and other passengers in the event of an accident.

The risk for injury to a traveling dog and other occupants in the vehicle caused by an unsecured dog has actually become recognized by some states, which have initiated a type of seat-belt law pertaining to pets traveling in vehicles. Check your local restrictions on travel with pets to be sure you don't receive a no-seatbelt ticket for your dog.


Everyone loves dogs, and most pet owners want to show their best bud a good time on adventures into the wild world. One of the best ways to do this is a car ride to a familiar local dog park for some mingling with other dogs from the area. Remember to always keep your pet's head fully inside the vehicle while traveling, and you can reduce the incidence of injury significantly. If you happen to be in a state that requires pets to be secured during travel, run to your local pet store and pick up a doggie harness. They are around $15.00 and could save the life of your dog or another passenger in your car in the event of an accident.

Tagged: Pet Travel, Travel Dangers For Pets, Dog Falling From Vehicle


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The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com


2 Comments For "Car Window Dangers?"

Lorraine Luongo

Lorraine Luongo

This information was very helpful!

April 3, 2010 at 2:13PM  Sign In or Join to Comment



I didn't realize how many things could happen while window surfing!

May 17, 2010 at 3:31PM  Sign In or Join to Comment