Car airbags can harm or kill cats and dogs

It is said that airbags deploy with such force that they can damage a dog cage. I presume that means a metal one. What about the soft cat carriers which are popular? It seems certain that an airbag could seriously harm a cat in one of those in an accident when the cat is on the front passenger seat. And if a cat or dog is unrestrained in the car it could kill them as airbags are not designed for companion animals.

Airbags can kill cats and dogs
Airbags can kill cats and dogs. Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It is useful to know that. It is possible to disable airbags but do you want to? Apparently, there is a disabling switch in some cars in the glovebox or at the left-hand side of the passenger dashboard; check the manual.

It must be better to put the cat carrier on the rear seats or in the rear of the car with the seats folded down. And ideally the carrier should be held in position. In a sharp stop the carrier will fly off the seat. This may harm a cat or dog inside.

I always put my metal carrier on plastic sheeting. Going to the vet is scary for a cat. Some cats may urinate in fear or even defecate. The pee may find its way into the seats. If that happens you have a big problem getting rid of it as it soaks into the foam seating. We know about the pungency and persistence of feline urine. Use an enzyme cleaner to try and neutralise it.

Having a cat or dog out of a carrier in a moving car might lead to an accident. If it does and the cat’s owner is at fault it would probably be a factor in a conviction for careless driving.

A vehicle insurance policy may contain terms and conditions regarding travelling with a cat or dog. If you are breach of the conditions and have an accident it may invalidate the policy.

A survey by Dogs Trust found that 60% of owners think it is dangerous to have an unrestrained pet in the car. Therefore 40% don’t. Are they wrong? I’m told that 34% of drivers don’t restrain their companion animals. 10% allow their pet to sit on the front seat risking a fine up to £2,500. 64% of drivers are unaware that they can be fined if their pet is unrestrained in a moving vehicle (source:

In the UK, the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

Non-compliance does result in a fine but it’ll be a factor if an accident is caused by a companion animal in the car.

Dogs can be trained on how to behaviour in a vehicle but 76% have not received formal training according to the Dogs Trust.

It’s really about taking proactive action to protect against injury caused by rare events.

Primary source: The Mirror newspaper.


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