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March 23, 2013
A Dog Gate in the Volvo XC70

The pet barrier of the Volvo XC70 can include a steel cargo compartment separator so that your dog can’t jump out when the tailgate is open.

We recently read a blog post on Fidose of Reality.com about the top ten pet safe vehicles, which they got from a 2009 report from Edmunds.com. Some of the pet safe features included climate control in the back area, side curtain airbags, anchor points so you can secure your pet or pet’s carrier, custom-installed crash-tested pet barriers, and so on. (Most of these features sound great but a few made little sense in regards to ‘pet safety’, such as extra storage compartments for your pet’s things and extra cargo space in the back for large dogs.) Check out these articles and read more details about the features of the top ten pet safe vehicles. Whether or not these really are the best are really dependent on your needs. If you are looking to buy a new (or used) vehicle, consider how important the following features are:

Custom-Installed Crash Tested Pet Barrier
This is, by far, my favorite feature. Most of the pet barriers we sell are strong and designed to stay in place, but they stay in place with pressure mounts while the pet barrier in the Volvo XC70 is bolted in. Plus it has been crash tested along with the vehicle itself!

The Volvo XC70 with a Pet Barrier Installed

This dog rides in the cargo area of the Volvo XC70 where the pet barrier is bolted in for superior security.

Metal Anchor Points in the Cargo Area of an SUV
This one is very important to me since my dogs wear seat belts. After looking at a few SUVs I was really surprised that most did not have any anchor points or cargo rings. And most of those few that did were plastic, not metal. One salesman tried to tell me that the plastic cargo ring was really strong. Strong enough to hold a 70lb dog in a car accident? I think not. Without metal cargo rings, I have to find a way to connect my dogs’ seat belt tethers to the seat belt housing from the back cargo area.

Climate Control in the Back Area of the Car or SUV
This is another fantastic feature. I remember renting an SUV for a trip with our dogs once and the a/c froze us in the front while the dogs in the back were very warm. This is one reason our retail website will soon be selling pet cooling pads. It is a temporary solution until one can buy a vehicle that has decent climate control in the back area of the car or SUV.

Curtain Side Airbags
The front passenger side airbags are not safe for dogs, but curtain side airbags might be helpful in a car accident.

Plenty of Room for Large Dogs or Large Dog Crates
This feature is not as important if you have small dogs. But if you have big dogs like me, space is definitely important. And if I decide to have my dogs ride in a secured pet crate rather than wear seat belts, I will need even more room. Big dogs need bigger dog crates.

Rearview Camera so You Can Make Sure You Don’t Hit Your Dog When Backing Up
This is one of the features mentioned in the top 10. However, I just don’t see the importance for pet safety. I see the benefit. I don’t want to back up and hit an animal or a person. But I live in the suburbs so neither my dogs nor my neighbor’s dogs are out running around. Safety issue in general – yes; specifically as a pet safety issue – not really.

Privacy Glass to Help Limit Extreme Temperatures in the Vehicle
This can be helpful for long road trips, especially if your vehicle doesn’t have climate control in the back. But for everyday driving, it is probably not a big deal for pet safety. For one, I don’t want anyone to think that just because the windows are tinted that you can leave the dog unattended in the car. It will still get hot in your car in warm weather no matter how dark your windows are tinted. I, personally, see tinted windows more as a deterrent against thieves than as a pet safety benefit.

Disable Passenger Side Airbags
If you have a small dog that you want to ride in the front seat with you, you want to make sure the passenger side airbags are not going to go off in a car accident if your dog is sitting there. Front passenger side airbags are not safe for dogs. Find out if the vehicle you are going to purchase is designed so that the airbags only go off if there is a certain amount of weight in the seat, or if the airbags can be disabled.

These are the major features I saw in the top ten list of pet safe vehicles. Aesthetic things you might also want to consider are the interior and whether there is enough storage space for your dog’s things. Are there any other features you can think of for pet safe vehicles?

(Above images courtesy of VolvoCars.com)

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3 Responses to “Pet Safety Saturday – Features of Pet Safe Vehicles”

  1. Flea:

    Way cool list. I love the rear air controls in my van. When there are a million of us on a road trip, it means the dogs will be laying on the floor. I always switch to feet air in the back, so the dogs will have air circulating and not be too hot or cold.

  2. Jackie Bouchard:

    Oh, I need to get a new car soon. (Although I hate the thought of shopping for one… almost as bad as bathing suit shopping, which I also need!) This is a helpful list!

    (Stopped by from Oz’s blog. Loved his limerick about Maya. Our last pup loved to show off her “glory” as well!)

  3. snoopy@snoopysdogblog:

    My humans did a lot of research to find a good car that I could travel in, I went with them when I was a pup – they got a Chevy Traverse – It has rear a/c and lots of metal hooks to attach my harness to, which Mum loves, plus it means I can’t jump out when they open the tail gate.

    It’s so important to make sure us Dogs are traveling safely, just like the humans,

    Hope you’re having a fun day :)

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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