Answer by Anderson Moorer, former paramedic (EMT-p), pet owner, and dog rescue volunteer:
Yes, if you care whether the dog is injured or killed should you be in an accident.
As a former paramedic, I will tell you from experience that dogs are injured terribly in car accidents. They do not typically receive care in the field, and when their injuries are serious, they are not infrequently put down or left to die while the humans are cared for.
Sometimes, the injuries sustained by seat-belt-wearing humans are minor while their dog, ejected from being unrestrained, is critically injured. Those lucky owners get to watch their friend's dying moments.
This is worth a little effort to avoid.
But you can't use the seat belts in the car directly—they are designed for humans. The solution is a dog seat-belt harness. They are cheap, comfortable for the dogs, and easy to use. The dogs are able to move about within the space of a single seat. They can lie down, sit up, etc.
Seat-belt harnesses have several major benefits:
- Dogs are prevented from being ejected in an accident. Even "low speed" accidents can result in a dog being propelled at 20 mph or more through a windshield. The harness also absorbs deceleration forces much as a human seatbelt does, reducing injury.
- Restrained dogs cannot collide with humans in the force of an accident, which can cause injury to both humans and dogs.
- Restrained dogs are unable to dash out when a door is opened, preventing a lost dog. And this restraint removes any chance of the dog interfering with driving, tangling with police, or bolting in the event of an accident.
More questions on Dogs (pets):