With warmer days finally here, you're likely taking the family pooch to the neighborhood dog park.

Or considering a family road trip that includes or four-legged friend.

Whether you're taking Fido on vacation or to a vet appointment, there are several things you should be doing to ensure his -- and your -- safety!

How you safely transport your pooch will depend on his size.

For small dogs... you'll want a dog crate.

Pet carriers are cozy and comforting for dogs. Not only is your pet safely confined in a portable crate, but the crate can also be strapped inside the car using the vehicle's seat belt. In other words, not only will your dog be safe in the event of an accident -- but so will you. Pet carriers work well for cats and small dogs weighing less than 15 pounds.

For medium-sized dogs... use a harness.

Just like seat belts, dog harnesses keep your pet secure and stable during a crash. (Note: do NOT use a seat belt on a dog.) Travel harnesses are designed to fit around the dog's chest and neck, which helps spread the force of an impact. (Think of the 5-point harness on your toddler's car seat -- multiple "points" help secure the passenger.)

Harnesses have tethering straps that anchor them into the vehicle's seat belt fixing points. The best harnesses have a 3-point fixing system that holds all parts of the dog's body secure against the seat. However, be sure to check that the particular harness you're buying is made for your dog's weight. (In case you're wondering, the Click It Utility has been deemed the "safest" harness on the market.)

For large dogs... install a barrier.

While there are harnesses designed for large dogs, sometimes, large dogs are uncomfortable harnessed in the back. If this sounds like your dog, you might want to look into installing a barrier.

Barriers range from mesh secured with loops to metal grills. Safety-wise, metal grills are the most effective at keeping your dog confined in the event of an accident. However, grates aren't the best option for keeping your dog safe. If your large dog is at home in a crate, consider getting one designed for car travel -- these can be almost as effective as a car seat in terms of keeping your pet safe.



Your dog is likely "part of the family." Treat him that way by making sure you're properly restraining him -- and driving safely!

Source: Center for Pet Safety, Pet Travel Tips | Trusted Choice, Pet Safety During a Crash.
Photo: Tony Alter, Dog Pile.
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