Vet highlights dangers of allowing dogs to lean out of car windows

Dr Pete Wedderburn says it is ‘fraught with hazards that are not obvious until a crisis happens’

Allowing a pet dog to hang its head out of a car window is fraught with dangers and their owners should think again before allowing it, a leading veterinary surgeon has warned.

“Yes it looks like fun for dogs and people but we know about the risks,” said Dr Pete Wedderburn, a specialist small animal vet based in Bray, Co Wicklow, who makes regular TV and radio appearances on veterinary matters.

Dr Wedderburn, who has his own menagerie of dogs, cats, ducks, hens and a pet rabbit, said: “If there is an accident, the dog will be hurt, and the dog’s body will act as a missile, colliding with humans and causing injuries. So I hate to be a spoilsport but dogs hanging out of windows is fun like humans hanging out of train doors - fraught with hazards that are not obvious until a crisis happens.”

He said the potential dangers are numerous such as a dog leaning too far and falling out of the car. “We’ve seen so many cars with the window fully lowered and the dog standing on the door, a terrible and probably fatal accident just waiting to happen.


“The dog could suddenly jump from the car when a car is stopped if you have left the window down. As much as you might trust your dog’s training, do you really want to put it to the test? If you’re at a stop and your dog sees something interesting, are you 100 per cent positive he or she will not try to jump from the car?”

Dr Wedderburn also highlighted that if a car has to suddenly stop or is hit, the dog could fall out of the car, or could get an insect or other object embedded in its eye.

“Even the smallest particle becomes a projectile in a moving car, plus your vehicle could suddenly be sideswiped or be involved in an accident, crushing your dog.”

Safe alternatives to letting your dog put its head out of a car window include opening the window slightly so as the dog gets the breeze and all the smells that come along with it; making sure the air conditioner is on; and providing your pet with a dog seatbelt when the window is open.