Dogs and car safety


This article has been previously published in my old blog 3rd January 2014. I decided to publish it again as the previous article was written only in Finnish and also because this topic never gets old.

Human safety in car crashes has been tested for years with different kind of crash tests, but when it comes to pets, tests are not so common. However, the results are really alarming, as most of the so-called safety harnesses fail these tests. Most of the harnesses  tear completely during these tests throwing the dog against the windshield and human travelers. Even the best harnesses only protect humans and dogs get serious , even deadly, damages during the car crash. Finnish car magazine, Tuulilasi, wrote in August 2013 that when testing dog car safety harnesses, all products failed. Some of the harnesses would have even strangled the actual dog in a car crash. There are little to no regulations when it comes to dog car safety products. So even if manufacturers use weak plastic locks in their products, they are actually doing nothing wrong. Probably pet owners might see this “a bit” differently, especially when harnesses are often sold emphasizing the safety. This causes that many of the pet owners trust these products blindly.  Center for Pet Safety has published a video about Dog Harness Crash Test, which shows perfectly how weak these products are and how there is no reason to trust them.

I also searched few online stores selling dog car harnesses, and they never mention these weaknesses. Only openly confesses, that plastic parts are too weak for safety products and they only sell AllSafe dog harnesses containing metallic parts. AllSafe  harnesses have been crash-tested at Statens Provnings- och Forskningsinstitut in Sweden and German TÜV has tested them and given them GS-record. However, I was not able to find any tests results or mention about what this GS actually means.

So, forget about harnesses, what about cages and boxes? The situation is not much better. Basic plastic boxes or metallic cages are not meant for a safe car traveling. They only help to avoid accidents, as the dogs cannot jump around in the car or if they are placed in the trunk. Even then the cage might kill the dog during the accident if it gets deformed badly (sharp plastic or metallic parts might harm the dog). most of these boxes or cages have not been tested at all, but pet stores still recommend them for a safe car traveling.

Screenshot from video: Center for Pet Safety Crash Tests Funded by Subaru

There are two cage options, that have passed car tests. One is Swedish Variogate, which also has crash test video on Youtube. The second one, US made Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate can be seen on the Subaru-sponsored crash test. Variogate costs about 500-7000 euros and is available in Finland as well. G1 Intermediate costs about 500$ but it is not sold anywhere in Finland.

There is also Sleepypod, that is soft traveling box for small dogs and cats. Sleepypod has also passed crash tests, and a video of the test can be seen on Youtube: Sleepypod Crash Test Success. Sleepypod costs about 2000 euros.

PawMap – mobileapp for dog safety

PawMap is a mobile application that helps dog owners to avoid dangers, such as snakes, glass shards or poison, during daily walks. The application lets dog owners to create markings that are visible to other dog owners on a map.

PawMap home view shows a map that contains the markers that other users have made during a month. After one month,  marking will expire and it will disappear from the default map view. From settings, it is still possible to view entries older than one month. When pressing the marker, the app shows more detailed information about the danger. Detailed data contains the type of the danger (poison, dangerous animal, or other), a short title and a description of it. There might be an image of the danger too if the user has added one.

You can add your own marker by pressing long a location on the map. After this, PawMap lets you add details of the hazard.

Adding a marker is simple

I found this app a few weeks ago by coincidence and was positively surprised.There are several apps for dog owners, but most of them are poorly made and practically useless. Even the useful ones are usually ruined with poor usability. I myself use this app regularly, but I think this could be even more useful if there were more people to use it. The more people use this, the more data and markers will be added, and therefore the app is even more useful.

Download the App
Google Play

More information
PawMapin website
PawMap in Facebook
PawMap at Instagram
PawMap in Twitter

Product review

Pros Cons
  • Usability is great and app is simple to use
  • App is really useful and, sadly, also necessary
  • Available for several mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Creating markers requires login with Facebook or Google
  • Marker is only visible in certain location, there is no possibility to add radius for it
  • There is no possibility to receive notifications when entering to an area where a marker is set