Should I allow my dog to stick his head out the window of my car?

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Have you ever driven down the road with a dog in the car? If you have, chances are, you’ve witnessed one of the most adorable behaviors our canine companions exhibit. For some reason, they just love to stick their heads out the window and let the wind fly in their faces. But did you know, that this cute behavior could also mean an eye injury for your dog?

A couple years ago, I was listening to a podcast by Dr. Randy Aronson, affectionately known as America’s Radio Pet Vet. On this particular episode of the podcast, Dr. Aronson expressed his concern with allowing our dogs to do this. Perhaps it is because there is a lot of sand in his part of the country. Dr. Randy has a practice at PAWS Veterinary Center in Tucson, AZ. Or maybe, it is simply because he cares deeply about the health and welfare of all pets.

Here’s what I remember learning from Dr. Randy.

As your dog casually sticks his head out the window, you are happily driving along at whatever speed is authorized in your location. As you drive, you watch as bugs splat into your windshield, exploding their guts all over the window. On occasion, you pass a construction zone where they are laying gravel or new asphalt. As you drive by, you notice small rocks flying toward your vehicle. And on a windy day, whether you live in the desert or another place, there are grains of sand and dirt flying around. Meanwhile, your dog, who does not have a windshield or eye protection, faces all of these hazards.

That’s right. Bugs are exploding in his eyes. Sand and dirt particles flying at high speeds are crashing into the eyes. Small stones from gravel trucks or construction zones can smack into the eye causing lacerations. So this innocent happy-go-lucky behavior exhibited by your dog is actually putting him in danger.

What can you do?

First, restrain your dog. If your dog can stick his head out the window, you probably are not using any safety restraints such as harnesses or belts to protect your dog in the event of an accident. Make sure to use an appropriate restraint for your size of dog.

Second, if you drive with the windows down, make sure your dog is not seated next to a window. If she is, simply roll the window down just enough to facilitate airflow, but not so much that your dog can get her head out the window.

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