Last week, I was on the way to work when I saw this beautiful German Shepherd dog riding with his head out the window. Although the dog was having fun, there are many dangers associated with this activity. I have also seen many horse trailers with the windows open or folded back. Even though the airflow is cooling, I do not recommend it. Here is a list of potential injuries:
First, dogs can jump out of the window and right into danger. Fractured bones, cruciate ligament ruptures, broken teeth and head trauma are just a few of the injuries I have seen from the impact of landing on the pavement. Once the dog is out of the vehicle, things get even worse. The pet can be hit and killed by a car. If they survive the fall and make it out of the road, the scared dog runs and sometimes is lost. To prevent this, some pet parents will open the window a small amount. Unfortunately, this is not always safe either. Dogs can get their heads caught if they turn sideways. As the frightened dog struggles to free itself, they often hurt their necks. Dogs have died or suffered severe brain trauma from strangulation before the driver can get the window down.
Second, corneal injuries are very common. Small particles cause a lot of damage when they hit the cornea at a high rate of speed. Painful scratches occur. Airborne pebbles and rocks can cause even more damage. I saw one dog where a flying rock ruptured her right eye. There was nothing I could do to save it. I had to remove it to make her comfortable. As mentioned above, horses and livestock are often transported with open vents for cooling. To prevent injury, all openings should be covered with a fine screen to filter out particles. Alternatively, horses can wear visors or recovery hoods.