Car Travel Safety for Pets

Dr. Scott Busby

Many people love to take their furry companions for a ride in the car, and I’m sure the majority of dogs out there would agree that car travel is exciting, but lets take a look at how we can make these enjoyable events safer for both owners and their furry companions with 5 simple tips:

1. Keep your pet in the back seat: Driving with your pet in the car can be a treat for both you and your dog but it can also be dangerous. Dogs can be a distraction if allowed to ride in the front seat, and even worse if allowed to ride in your lap, creating a very unsafe driving environment. Given the event of an accident, airbags can be very dangerous for your pet, especially smaller breed dogs. Keeping your pet in the backseat decreases distraction and increases pet safety.

2. Use of cargo spaces and kennels: If you drive an SUV, turn the cargo space in the back into a dog designated area. Use of a dog bed and a dog specific cargo partition will help keep your pet safely confined in their own special section of the car.  Also, placing your pet’s kennel in the cargo area may help protect them (and you) in the event of an accident, as well as provide some security for your pet, especially if your pet feels safe in their kennel at home.

3. Safety belts: If a secure cargo hold is not an option, use of a pet safety belt is the next best thing. Pet safety belts are very affordable, and will keep your dog from becoming a projectile if involved in an accident. Safety belts will also prevent your dog from jumping out the window while moving or while stopped. This will not only help ensure the safety of your dog, but it will also help ensure the safety of you or anyone else riding in the car.

4. Be cautious when riding with the windows down. Dogs love to hang their heads out the window and in many instances this can be done safely, but as a responsible pet owner, you must know your pet’s limitations. Do not allow your pet to place their paws on the door, or hang them out the window. If your pet has a tendency to do this, try keeping the windows halfway up to prevent this behavior but still allow the pet to smell and feel the breeze. Also, please do not allow your pet to hang their head out the window while traveling at high speeds, as insects, sand, rocks or debris from other cars can cause injury if they come into contact with your pet’s eyes. AGAIN, safety belts are advised, especially when riding with the windows down!

5. Lastly, if you choose to place your pet in the bed of a pick up truck, please make sure that they are in a kennel that is securely tied down and will not move in the event of an accident. Do not allow your pet to walk around freely in the bed of a pickup truck while it is moving. Many dogs will jump out of the bed, or be thrown out in the event of an accident. Please use a kennel and your dog will greatly appreciate it.

If you follow these tips, you and your pet will be able to safely experience the joys of the open road!


Do I Really Need to Spay & Neuter my Pets?

Dr. Kim Ackerman

Yes! In addition to avoiding unwanted litters, pet overpopulation, and the deaths of thousands of animals in shelters every day, there are many medical and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering.


A spay is also called an ovariohysterectomy, which refers to surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries in a female. We recommend spaying between 4 and 6 months of age, BEFORE they go into their first heat cycle. Once a female goes into her first heat cycle, her chances of developing mammary cancer increase drastically.  If a female dog or cat remains intact, she is at risk for mammary cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. She is also at risk of developing a pyometra, which is a deadly infection of the uterus. Treatment for pyometra is spay surgery, but it is emergency surgery on a sick animal instead of an elective surgery on a healthy animal.  Intact females are also at risk of becoming pregnant.  Besides preventing unwanted litters, you want to avoid pregnancies as the pregnant female can develop dystocia (difficulty with labor and the birthing process). The life of the mother and unborn babies is at risk with every dystocia case, and an emergency C-section surgery is often required.


A neuter is also called an orchiectomy, which refers to surgical removal of the testes in a male. We recommend neutering male dogs at about 6 to 9 months of age. Un-neutered male dogs are at risk of prostatitis, prostatic abscess, prostatic cancer, and testicular cancer as long as they remain intact.  Intact male dogs may also be prone to inappropriate urination or marking, aggression issues, or roaming behavior. Neutering can prevent or address these behavioral issues.


A spay surgery is usually more involved than a neuter surgery as you must enter the abdomen during a spay surgery. In a male, if both testicles have descended, you only perform surgery on the scrotum and do not need to enter the abdomen.  In some male dogs however, the testicles have not descended. Dogs with undescended testicles are termed cryptorchid. Sometimes the testicle remains in the abdomen or sometimes it is partly descended into the inguinal canal but hasn’t made it to the scrotum yet. All male dogs should be neutered but especially cryptorchid male dogs. An undescended testicle is at a higher body temperature than it would be in the scrotum and is therefore more likely to develop into cancer.


As you can see, spaying and neutering helps prevent a myriad of medical conditions in our furry, faithful companions.  The bottom line is, please spay and neuter – it saves lives!