Is It Safe For Dogs To Ride With Their Head Out The Window?

On January 23, 2009, The Arizona Republic published an article that concerns me.  It suggests that it is safe for dogs to ride with their head out of the car window.  The author is a dog trainer named Mark Siebel who offers the following advice, 

“Lower the rear windows only enough so the dog’s head can stick out, and then lock the power window controls to restrict the windows from accidentally lowering or raising.”  

Each year, many dogs suffer eye injuries from riding with their head out the window.  I have treated several in my career.  Small pieces of road debris or bugs hit their eyes.  Conjuctivits and corneal abrasions are the most common injury.   At high speeds, these particles may cause severe damage.  I had one patient actually rupture their eye when it was struck by a small pebble!  In addition to eyes injuries, some dogs inhale pieces of plant matter that lodge in their nasal passages.  These patients can require a flush under anesthesia to remove the foreign body.

As humans, it is our duty to protect the animals in our care.  Of course they want to ride with their head out the window and take in all the wonderful scents.  But, we have to be the ones to set boundaries.  Please do not let your pet ride with their head out the window.  It is a risky behavior, whether the window is locked or not.

Siebel, Mark “Safety paramount in road trip with dog” The Arizona Republic, January 23, 2009 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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