Pet Car Seats: Do They Work in a Crash?

by Mary Haight on November 17, 2015

Pet Car SeatsThe pet car seats you have at the ready to take your dogs out and about are not going to help in a low-speed crash. Never good news, especially before a series of busy holidays.

Pet safety is something all dog lovers expect of any product they buy. We buy food, toys, treats, and equipment, assuming they are tested for safe use and won’t hurt or kill our pets. But did you know consumer laws do not cover pet products?

For the majority of pet products, manufacturers can make a product and sell it on the internet, with no quality standards to meet, no safety testing, no liability insurance and they are doing nothing illegal.

Pet Car Seats, A Short Detour

Since we have established and improved safety standards in car seats for children over time, let’s hope we’re not getting taken for the same ride through history in the pet car seat safety space as children’s travel safety had. Is it just me, or do these look familiar:

car seatspet car seats

car seats for small fry

The Yes and No of Pet Safety Developments

Most products are in a pet safety legislation-free zone.  I say most because in 2013’s Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA imposed new rules on the pet food industry: they must now (?!) follow current good manufacturing practices, and analyze the potential food safety hazards of their products.

I’m always happy for progress, but given the current push by grocers to use out-of-date yogurt and other expired food items in pet foods, the pet food industry may next be adding nutrients to pet food that include the plastic packaging. How is plastic not hazardous to health? A little progress, more “whack-a-mole”?

The state of pet product safety is in the hands of each manufacturer. They know that is cause for scrutiny via independent testing, and while it may at first be a source of unease to some, what better way to position your brand as consumers top choice?

Manufacturers need to get ahead of this freight train and get their products tested by Center for Pet Safety to correct any problems. Several have, and are working toward certification. So many more need to get started. The testing failure rate has been astonishing and deeply concerning.

The Pilot study tested 4 popular brands:

  • Pupsaver
  • Snoozer Lookout I Car Seat (Medium)
  • PetsMart Top Paw Booster Seat (Private Label Solve-It)
  • Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat

Have you had safety problems with pet products? Have you reported them? Please share in the comments. Lindsey Wolko, Founder & CEO, Center for Pet Safety, also talks about how to report incidents and information is also available on the CPS website. Join us for the interview!

(Historical Photos: Petrolicious)

Many thanks to 4Knines for sponsoring this podcast!

 

54 comments
CarolBryant
CarolBryant

I am so glad you discussed this topic. I follow this closely and we have a harness I am trustworthy of but these crash tests and the failure of so many scares the living crap out of me. 

petsarefound
petsarefound

In Australia the NRMA have confirmed a Safety Harness which is more effective than others, as opposed to a Booster Seat, as such. 

MaureenWalshLake
MaureenWalshLake

Very interesting post and so frightening to think about!

Sadie_and_Co
Sadie_and_Co

Very scary!  We have Sleepypod harnesses for Henry and Reese.

CathyArmato
CathyArmato

There really needs to be more regulation around pet safety in cars, its seriously lacking

Sweet Purrfections
Sweet Purrfections

Very informative.  Mom Paula remembers when children didn't need car seats.  Hopefully, we'll get to that point with our pets.

dustydesertdogs
dustydesertdogs

wow! This was very informative, and interesting that a lot of the safety seats are not that safe. Thank you for sharing.

mk_clinton
mk_clinton

I am surprised that Kurgo did not test well. I really like their products. Our dogs ride in their kennel in the back of our SUV. It is not ideal but they are enclosed and it will offer some protection in an accident. (They won't become projectiles) Until our pets are viewed as more than property, legislation is not likely to change. Infant car seats have changed so much. My Mom's arm served as my "car seat" as a child. We are expecting our first grandchild in April and I just discovered today that baby bed bumper pads are now considered unsafe. Things are always changing so hopefully the pet industry will catch up with the times.

mattiedog
mattiedog

Really interesting post - we were thinking about this very topic earlier in the week, so very timely! We use SleepyPod harness, clip-in, etc. so we feel pretty good about that - and yet, we're always looking for new good info.  We'll share this - thank you!

talenthounds
talenthounds

I know someone who had an accident and one of their dogs died as the crates failed. We are planning a road trip TV series so I will be researching this further to make sure the 2 dogs in the show are as safe as possible. I just got Kilo a Kurgo car harness- it is almost heavier than him so he may be the last survivor if we have an accident. They crash test.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

As far as I am aware, several manufacturers *claim* crash testing. Yet there has not been any standardization to test to by third party experts until Center for Pet Safety stepped in. Their expert wrote the standards for child safety in vehicles.

So far, Sleepypod is still the only harness crash tested by a third party and certified as to safe results according to new testing standards. If Kurgo has tested their harness through an independent expert who wrote a report on how the product tested according to those new standards, I'd be interested to see it.

The issue has long been the fact that manufacturers of pet products are not subject to safety laws that protect human consumers and have not had independent oversight regarding marketing claims of safety. When companies police themselves, outcomes are not always what they should be.

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wantmorepuppies
wantmorepuppies

Thanks for this valuable (and unfortunately terrifying) info, Mary!

CarolBryant
CarolBryant

This topic scares the crap out of me and I have blogged about it, too. Great podcast and I am sharing. It is frightening how many duds there are on the market!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@CarolBryant I had that exact reaction when I discovered CPS, the work they are doing, and the results of testing. I was so upset, especially after noting how dogs have died after pet parents had spent upwards of $70 on some of these items thinking it made their pets safe. Thanks for listening to the podcast, Carol, and for sharing!

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ChroniclesCardi
ChroniclesCardi

I've done the harness and seatbelt tether for my corgis (when they were much smaller) and I crate them in the back for long rides. I knew the standards for pet seats/belts/carriers were cruddy, but not to this extent. Very good to know there's at least the Sleepypod brand available. (Imagine if there was nothing!) Thanks for sharing the info. Tweeted.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@ChroniclesCardi Yes, and I keep forgetting to mention the wonderful Pet Ego carriers, also winning Certification from Center for Pet Safety! I love it when a brand wants theirs to be considered among the best of the best =) Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate crate is for bigger dogs, but these plus Sleepypod which has a Certified carrier and Certified multiple size safety harnesses, well, I think it's an incredibly short list of safe travel products!

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FiveSibesMom
FiveSibesMom

Very discouraging that these "safety" products may not be safe at all.  Thanks for the very informative post... sharing!

KamaBosse
KamaBosse

It is tough to find an actual crash-tested product for dogs.  I feel best with the soft-crates that can be buckled in, but I know they too have not been thoroughly tested...

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@KamaBosse Sleepy Pod and Pet Ego have Certified Safe carriers now and they tell you where to put them in the vehicle to keep them safe, depending on the size of the dog ;) Their are Sleepy Pod harnesses certified across three weight zones, and the Gunner Kennel Intermediate 1 for crating during car travel. Thanks for stopping by!

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talenthounds
talenthounds

A good reminder- so scary. I am looking into the Sleepy Pod and a new harness.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@talenthounds Good for you! I am thankful that there are a couple of products that work -- it really is scary.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels to you and yours =)

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Bernard LimaChavez
Bernard LimaChavez

Thanks for reminding pet parents that they need to do research and be proactive about keeping their pets safe. Just because a marketing department says so doesn't mean it's true.

SierraKoester
SierraKoester

The lack of safety standards for pet products is alarming.  It's really sad that more manufacturers don't set high standards for pet safety standards.  Thank you for this important and informative interview!  It's really too bad that these safety seats did not do well in the tests. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@SierraKoester It is alarming, you're right! And, yes, sad that manufacturers are not flocking to CPS for certification guidelines. I hope they do the right thing, quickly. You're welcome, glad you liked the interview, thank you for listening =)

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MaureenWalshLake
MaureenWalshLake

I hope things change soon in this area. I have a feeling it will with a bit more time, just like other areas in the industry. Thanks for sharing this important information!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@MaureenWalshLake What I've learned over time is that there is no change unless consumers make it clear they expect better. We are their market. We don't put up with things dangerous to our children, why should we wait with products dangerous to our pets.


I think organizations like CPS act as a major catalyst for change in an area of the industry that is sorely lacking in truth in advertising, selling unsafe, expensive products to unsuspecting consumers. 

That is not to say that all manufacturers have nefarious intent. Some do testing, and it was never their intent to skirt any area of safety. Outcomes claiming that all sizes of your harnesses tested safe when only one did are not a possible when there's independent testing with scientifically verifiable results. Stepping off soapbox now =) Thanks for adding to the conversation!

 

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dailydogtag
dailydogtag

This is so disappointing.  You would think that more manufacturers would take the safety of our dogs more seriously.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@dailydogtag I agree these results are disappointing, and alarming. We expect better from pet product manufacturers. Thanks for pointing that out, and thanks for stopping by =)

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CarleenPruessCoulter
CarleenPruessCoulter

Interesting and scary. I wish there were more standards for these things.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@CarleenPruessCoulter If we can help keep Center for Pet Safety in business, we'll get those missing standards and from an honest source, across the pet product industry: Toys, food, apparel, collars and leashes -- wouldn't that be great? Thanks for popping in Carleen =)

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kittycatchronicles
kittycatchronicles

It's disheartening to know that pet products are not held to the same safety standards as human products. For so many of us, our pets are like our children and we want nothing but the best and safest for them. For the cats I use Sleepypod carriers - they have been crash tested and have held up as the safest carrier. However, they are not big enough for dogs (unless they are very small dogs). I hope that there is a travel harness/seat that is durable and safety tested for larger animals!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@kittycatchronicles I too was surprised to find the lobbyists had been able to take pet products out of consumer product laws. They were paid a lot of money to put our animals at risk. You should know that the Gunner Kennel Intermediate 1 made certification, so that's great for bigger dogs that a Sleepypod carrier allows. Also, there are three weight categories available for their certified safety harness also. And Pet Ego has a carrier that made certification too! Check out the CPS site under test results. Thanks for your observations and for stopping by =)

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tenaciouslittleterrier
tenaciouslittleterrier

I think Mr. N would like traveling in a car seat best... but like you said, there are no safe certified ones. Right now, we're trying to acclimate Mr. N to his sleepypod. I may need ear plugs for the car...

DaisyFrenchie
DaisyFrenchie

It is so scary when you stop to think about how many products out there are marketed for pets but could actually cause great harm.  We use a travel harness that clips to a seatbelt in the car, but not sure it's enough.  I hope sooner, rather than later, manufacturers wake up and realize that safety of pets is an important (and vital) topic!  I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather spend a few more dollars on a product that I knew for sure was safe.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

If you're using a Sleepy Pod Click-It it's enough. Otherwise, I'm afraid not. Dogs 15#s and less should be in an enclosed carrier, and not on the seat, but on the backseat floor. Check the CPS site for more info, and thanks for stopping by =)

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pawesomecats
pawesomecats

I always worry when I have to transport the cats anywhere - they are in their carriers and I buckle the seat belts around them but is it enough?

ZoePheeDogs
ZoePheeDogs

I definitely agree with you! There needs to be more testing done and there need to be safe products manufactured. Luckily we've never gotten into an accident with the girls in the car (knock on wood) but I did get into one with my previous family dog. I was rear ended and he ended up getting flung and hitting the front seat. We were both okay but he was traumatized on car rides for the rest of his life.

thedogtraininglady
thedogtraininglady

Safety is big for everything but pets, I think it's time for their to be safety rating on dog vehicle harnesses, just as they have safety ratings for cars.  There need to be standards.  As many pet parents as there are these days if we all start "barking for it" perhaps someone will begin to pay attention.  Pet Parents are a force to be reckoned with. 


I am always seeing petitions being started, is there a way to start one for this?  I have never started a petition online so I am not sure of all the in's and out's.  I bet if we could start one we would have a fairly sizable group of people that would sign it.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@thedogtraininglady Thanks for your questions! Center for Pet Safety has written standards for safety harnesses now, so there are scientific, measurable benchmarks that must be met to get Certified safe. The testing was done by the same company that tests vehicle safety in general and equipment, for all passengers, to meet government standards. As discussed in the podcast, the problem is that pet products are not considered a consumer product and so are not subject to consumer safety laws. We have lobbyists for the pet industry to thank for that. Bad idea. Really. 


It's probably not time for a petition yet, and you'd have to do a lot of research in how to make on successful. It's not easy. I had a petition to tell Petland to quit selling pets as the Canadian stores announced it as their plan. I used Change.org. It got 155,000 signatures, which is a lot. I had many people helping me from bloggers to a couple of websites -- success is never something we achieve on our own ;)

I'm glad this scary report made you want to take action. That is really great! Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation!




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PetGuideTweets
PetGuideTweets

I know that Subaru sponsors dog harness testing with the Center for Pet Safety. I think only three pet products make the grade ...

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@PetGuideTweets Subaru also sponsored this car set test and two others for carriers and crates. I give a cheer or ten to Subaru!! You can check which styles of Sleepy Pod carriers and harnesses are certified, same with Pet Ego carriers and Gunner Kennels crates on the Center for Pet Safety site. Thanks for stopping by!

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DawgBlogger
DawgBlogger

It's very sad when safety products do everything other than keep the dog safe.

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