Pet Safety, Dog Seat Belts & More

pet safety in vehicles and dog seat belts

Our pets are part of the family.  With this increasing “pets as family” trend more pet owners are also choosing to bring their pet along for rides.  Few owners likely give much thought beforehand about pet safety such as dog seat belts, harnesses, crates, etc in the event of an accident.


Dog Seat Belts & Harnesses

pet safety in vehicles and dog seat belts

Dogs do not need to be secured in a carrier if well-behaved and enjoy car rides.   Properly tested restraining harnesses secure the dog through the seat belt and are available at most well-stocked pet stores.  Before you decide on which restraining harness to use, make sure CPS (Center For Pet Safety) Approved

Pet Carriers or Dog Seat Belts and Harnesses?

Cats and smaller animals should be kept in a pet carrier and strapped in with a seat belt.  It is important to keep your pet in the back seat as the front-seat airbags can pose a hazard to pets who ride in the front seat.

Dog Seat Belts Keep You and Your Pet Safer

During a collision, it is suggested that an unrestrained pet weighing approximately 27 kg (60 lbs) would carry the force of a 1,225 kg (or 2,700 lbs) projectile.  Such a force could injure the pet plus other occupants in the vehicle and an unrestrained pet could also be thrown out of the vehicle even in minor collisions.

In Case of Emergency

Make sure to add another emergency contact for the pet to your cell phone “in case of emergency” (ICE) contact screen shot.  This way, if first responders are called to the scene of the accident, they will be able to notify the contacts of where the pet will be taken for medical attention or holding if needed. 

What Happens with Pets in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

In Manitoba, there are no set rules for what happens with pets in a motor vehicle accident when owners are incapacitated. If the collision happens within the R.M. of East St. Paul, RCMP will contact Prairie By-Law Enforcement 24-hour dispatch to retrieve the pet.  In Winnipeg, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Human Society Investigations & Emergency Response department confirmed if contacted by WPS they would attend to help and ensure the animal receives medical care if required and emergency boarding until the owner’s situation could be figured out.  If the collision happens after 2300 hours and police require help they would likely contact Winnipeg Animal Services. Animal Services will also ensure an injured animal received medical.

For non-emergency motor vehicle accidents involving pets, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible even in cases of minor vehicular damage.  Unlike humans, pets do not openly demonstrate pain and often try to hide any discomfort so owners need to be aware of the possibility their pet may be hurt.   In addition to seeking attention from a veterinarian, pets should be closely watched for the initial 24 hours and next few days after the accident for any delayed symptoms including whining or hissing, stiffness, restlessness, trembling, panting or other unusual behaviours.

Visit Your Vet ASAP

In Manitoba expenses for veterinary services or pet medication related to the accident are not covered by Manitoba Public Insurance as a pet is not considered to be an “insured” under the policy.  If, however, another motorist is “at fault” for the collision the pet owner can make a third-party claim against the “at fault” motorist through Small Claims Court.   The procedure is relatively simple, and a police report will be required as verification of the accident.


Your pets are your family.  If you choose to include them in your travels, here are more safety precautions you can take. Dog seat belts are great, but there are also more options available. Gateway Autobody wants them and you to be safe.

This video demonstrated CPS crash testing for dogs and recommended ways to keep your dog safely restrained in your vehicle.

Now that you have a good idea about pet safety, dog seat belts, and harnesses, I recommend you read this article – Wildlife Collisions: What to do & handling your insurance claim

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