You may see it quite often as you're driving around town: dogs riding in the back of trucks. You might even know someone who does it. Why not? It seems so convenient to just load your dog up in the back and take them with you.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 100,000 dogs are killed each year in accidents involving riding in truck beds. In addition, veterinarians see numerous cases of dogs being injured because they jumped out or were thrown from the bed of a pickup truck. If these dogs are lucky enough to still be alive, broken legs and joint injuries are among the most common types of damage that they sustain and often result in amputation. There are many dangers of having your four-legged friend loose in the bed of a truck while you're ramming the roads.
It may not have even occurred to you, since dogs always have a tendency to stick their heads out the window of a moving vehicle to smell all of those new smells on the open road. But being in the open air traveling at high speeds (whether their head is out the window or they're in the back of the truck) can likely cause damage to the delicate parts of their face. The swirling of the air currents in the bed of a pickup truck can cause dirt, debris and insects to become lodged in the dog's eyes, ears, and nose.
We've all had to slam on our brakes while we're driving at some point; it's inevitable. Now imagine slamming on your brakes while your beloved dog is in the truck bed. It's going to get a serious jolt and it's possible that it could fly right out of the bed and into the road.
You also run the risk of getting into an accident while you're traveling with your precious cargo which could also force it out of the bed. And if you think that securing it with a rope or chain is any better, you're wrong. There have been cases where dogs were thrown out of the back of the truck while still attached and being dragged on the road while the owner is still driving. Talk about a nightmare situation.
Even if you don't slam on your brakes or get into an accident, your dog may have plans of its own. Does your dog get easily distracted by squirrels, dogs, or other animals? Who's to say it's not going to willingly jump out in order to better investigate a situation? How long would it take you to realize it's gone? How will you be able to protect it from getting hit by other cars or straying too far away while you're in the driver's seat?
Traveling with dogs in the bed of your pickup trucks should never be an option. The Humane Society of the US notes that they don't know of any brand of harness that is safe for the back of the truck. It's best to have the dog in the cab with you, and if it's an extended cab, the dog should be restrained in the back and away from the windshield.
For trucks, pet travel crates, pet safety belts, and pet car seats are the safest bets. If none of these are available to you at the time you're taking your truck (or any vehicle), consider keeping your dog safe at home.
Kim Salerno is the president of TripsWithPets.com, a pet travel site she founded in 2003 which features pet friendly hotels and accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources.