Why your choice of car could be damaging your dog’s health

Why your choice of car could be damaging your dog’s health
Why your choice of car could be damaging your dog’s health

SUV’s are doing big business for car manufacturers and, with generally large boots and off-road features, it’s easy to see why many dog owners are deserting the traditional estate car in favour of stylish ‘Chelsea tractors’.

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But a new study has revealed that SUV owners could be unwittingly putting their pet’s health at risk.

Pressure on front legs

Research published in Vet Record revealed that allowing dogs to jump out of large cars with higher boots, subjects their front legs to undue forces, potentially boosting their risk of injury.

While UK legislation requires that dogs must be restrained while travelling in any vehicle, no such regulations exist for safe entry and exit from a back seat or car boot, say the researchers.

To try and gauge whether different height boots are associated with excess pressure loading, the researchers set up an experiment in which 15 healthy dogs (14 pedigree breeds, 1 mixed breed) jumped three times each from a platform adjusted to three different boot sill heights: 0.55, 0.65, and 0.75 metres.

Some manufacturers offer accessory packs which can make things easier for pets.
Some manufacturers offer accessory packs which can make things easier for pets.

Measurement of the biomechanical forces involved for each of these jumps showed that the pressure on the dogs’ front legs differed considerably between the three levels, progressively increasing in parallel with ‘boot’ height.

It rose by just under 13 per cent between the 0.55 and 0.65 metre heights, and by just under 11 per cent with a further 10 cm rise in height. Altogether, there was a 25 per cent difference in peak ground force pressure between the lowest and highest platform heights.

High boot compartments ‘may be inadvisable’

The authors of the report caution that further research is needed before a definitive link can be made between this type of pressure and the sorts of front leg injuries/conditions typically seen in dogs.

But they conclude: “This study provides the first objective evidence to support the commonplace belief that allowing dogs to repeatedly jump clear from vehicles with high boot compartments may be inadvisable.”

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