Your pet pooch may love sticking its head out the car window, but a new test shows the danger of dogs in cars.
State Insurance says testing at its research centre in Sydney showed an unsecured pet travelling on the back seat of a car could hit the dashboard in a crash with enough force to cause serious injury to the animal, even at low speeds.
Researchers found an effective harness was necessary when travelling with a pet as it kept both the animal and other passengers safe in a crash.
It also meant the driver would not be distracted while driving with the animal moving around the vehicle.
But when 25 dog different harnesses were tested, State found 23 failed to adequately restrain life-sized dog dummies in simulated impacts at speeds up to 35kmh.
"Most people using the commonly available harnesses are doing so in a genuine attempt to keep their pets safe," State research manager Robert McDonald said.
"However our testing has unfortunately shown that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common low-speed crash."
Many dogs weighed more than 20 kilograms and some more than 50kg, and should be restrained "just as you restrain a child in the car", he said.
Executive Director of SPCA Auckland Bob Kerridge said the testing proved only a limited number of harnesses appeared to be effective and consumers should be careful in their selection.
In general, dogs did not accept such restraints, which made their use difficult.
"We would certainly encourage the sale of proven products only, in the interests of safety, and would support those products that are proven to be effective," he said.
"However persuading the dogs to accept them is another matter."
State said the two restraints which passed the test were the Purina Roadie and the Sleepypod Clikit Utility dog harnesses.
Only the Sleepypod harness is available for pre-order in New Zealand.