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Car Seats

Shih Tzu Car Travel - 
Car Seats, Motion Sickness & More

Overview

If you ever take your Shih Tzu for a drive, short or far, there is one concern that affects every single puppy or dog. And another that is quite common. 

One of the main elements, and the one that every owner should put thought into, is how to secure your puppy or dog to ensure safety. If you think that your Shih Tzu does just fine on your lap or plopped down on the seat beside you, there are 5 top reasons why you’ll want to rethink this.  

In addition, another common issue is motion sickness, which happens to many dogs. This can lead a Shih Tzu to feel panicked, really dislike the car, and of course, suffer from nausea and/or vomiting. 

This section will cover:
  • The 5 top reasons to have a car seat for your Shih Tzu
  • The best types of car seats for this breed
  • 7 tips on how to prevent motion sickness
Shih Tzu in car seat
Comfortable and protected from injury? Yes! 
Cindy Lou Who, at 9 months old, photo courtesy of Eric and Willetta Lee

5 Top Reasons to Have Your Shih Tzu in a Car Seat

If there was just one thing that you have direct control over, and that without it could instantly threaten your Shih Tzu’s well-being and even life span, it just may be keeping puppy or dog in a canine car seat.

The facts and stats on this are quite startling. Here are 4 elements to keep at the top of your mind:
1. Using the right car seat plays a big role in preventing car sickness.

While there are other steps to take in conjunction with this, having your Shih Tzu in a raised booster car seat that is properly sized for toy breed dogs will help prevent car sickness. It keeps a puppy or dog up high for good line-of-sight out of the windows and close to fresh air (more ahead). 

2. You cannot say that a car accident can’t/won’t happen to you. 

Just in the US alone, there are 16,000+ vehicle accidents per day. And the majority of these happen very close to home; within just 3 miles.

Does your good-driving track record prevent those stats from including you? Not really... According to Forbes, a person will have 3 to 4 collision claims in their lifetime.
Shih Tzu car seat, raised booster
Safe? Yes! Luna, at 3 years old,
photo courtesy of Bonnie Olivier
And according to Professor Jeff Rosenthal PhD. of the University of Toronto, the odds of being involved in a collision within the span of just 1 year is 1 in 16 (either as a driver or passenger).   

So, even if you are an excellent driver, you have no control over others on the road. Zero control over weather and road conditions. And with such high odds, not securing your Shih Tzu should be unthinkable. 
3. Having an unsecured dog increases the likelihood of an accident.

Nearly 20% of crashes are due to distracted driving and an unrestrained dog, even a well-behaved one, is a distraction. 

How so? An enlightening survey of pet owners conducted by AAA and Kurgo revealed that only 29% of people admitted being distracted by their dog, but at the same time, 65% also admitted to engaging in a distracting task with their dog while driving:  
  • 52% pet their dog while driving
  • 23% use an arm or hand to hold the dog in place when braking
  • 18% reach over to another seat to touch their dog
  • 17% have their dog on their lap at least for a portion of the drive
  • 13% give treats while driving
Does it count if it’s only for a moment? Yes. Looking away from the road for 2 seconds doubles the chances of a crash. And did you know that if you were traveling 55 MPH and took your eyes off the road for 2.5 seconds, that you would travel the length of 1/2 of a football field?
4. Not securing your Shih Tzu puts your dog at incredible risk. 

If your Shih Tzu is improperly secured or not secured at all, you are risking your puppy or dog’s life. And this stands true even if you are driving slow.

When a dog is not belted in, any collision will propel your Shih Tzu; this is known as crash force.

Here’s what can happen if your Shih Tzu is not in a car seat:
  • In a crash going 20 MPH, a 10 lb. Shih Tzu would be thrown with the force of a 200-lb. object.
  • In a crash going 45 MPH, a 5 lb. Shih Tzu puppy would be thrown with the force of a 225-lb. object.
  • What about highway speeds? At 60 MPH, a 5-lb. puppy becomes a 300-lb. projectile, and a 10-lb. adult becomes a 600-lb. projectile.
This is enough to seriously or fatally injure a dog. 
5. Both your insurance company and the police want your Shih Tzu in a car seat. 

If your Shih Tzu is injured in an accident in which you are found to be at fault and you did not have your dog properly belted in, most insurance companies will not pay for the vet bills to treat the injuries or save your dog’s life. 

Also, several states have laws about keeping a dog safely buckled up. For example, in new Jersey, an officer can stop you for improper transportation of an animal and the fine is $250 to $1000.

In Arizona, Connecticut, and Maine, distracted driving laws pertain to pets too. And in Hawaii, you are not allowed to have any pet unrestrained; it’s a $57 fine for doing this and if your pet is on your lap, it’s $97. 

Not that just avoiding a fine should be your motivation.
Shih Tzu dog in safe car seat
Good line of sight? Yes! Buckled in for safety? Yes! Bunny, at 2 years old, photo courtesy of Bonnie Olivier
Bottom Line:

If you would buckle up a child,
buckle up your Shih Tzu

The Best Types of Car Seats for Shih Tzu

Double car seat for Shih Tzu dogs
Cozi and Princess Carolrose,
photo courtesy of Linda Curgian
There are several kinds of car safety methods for pets.

Do not use a free-standing crate or cage; this does nothing to keep a dog safe; both the crate and the dog will become projectiles in the event of an accident.

In addition, seat belt extenders are not the best choice for this breed; these are designed for much larger dogs and will not help much with the issue of motion sickness.

The best type of car seat for a Shih Tzu puppy or dog is a properly sized raised booster car seat. 

There are 3 elements that make these great for both safety and comfort:

1. Raised – There are 2 benefits to this: 1) It keeps a Shih Tzu raised up high for good line-of-sight out of the windows. This typically helps quite a bit with car sickness issues. 
And 2) These allow a small dog to be closer to a slightly opened window for better access to fresh air, another helpful method to cut down on motion sickness. 

2. Sturdy sides – Unlike simple belts, these seats have a structured base and sides, which is crucial for both safety and for keeping your Shih Tzu comfortable. One of the elements that contributes to car sickness is a dog’s body swaying to and fro, and feeling the full force of breaks and turns. But, a booster seat hold a dog securely for less tousling around. 

3. Inner harness buckle- A short harness buckle will be on the interior of the back wall of the seat. This meant to be connected to a dog’s harness, not collar. Note that clipping this to a collar is very dangerous and can lead to serious neck injury. 

The harness connector will help keep your Shih Tzu safe and stable. 

Recommended Car Seats for Shih Tzu

Keeping all of the above listed qualities in mind, and with the car seats sized specifically for toy breed dogs, below are our top picks for raised booster seats.

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn the screen horizontal to see all 4. 

Harnesses for When in The Car

As we’ve covered, when you have your Shih Tzu in his/her car seat, you’ll want the connector to clip to the harness, not a collar. This is a must to prevent neck injury. 

Every Shih Tzu should have a harness for walks, and this is the very same type that can be used in the car. 
The reason why this breed should have a harness is because of the breathing issues and potential health conditions (most commonly collapsed trachea) that brachycephalic breeds like the Shih Tzu are prone to.

If you do not yet have a harness for your puppy or dog, below are some of our top recommendations. 

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn the screen horizontal to see all 4.

7 Tips for Helping a Shih Tzu with Motion Sickness

Car sickness is very common among canines; in fact, it is a top concern when traveling by car and other forms of transportation such as planes and even trains.

What causes this:

A disconnect between what the body feels and the eyes see. The inner ears sense motion. And the body is moving during turns, deceleration, and acceleration. Yet, the eyes see the interior of the car which is not moving. 

Signs: 

Drooling, heavy panting, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and/or panicked behavior.
Onset: This can begin within moments of driving or may develop after a certain amount of time has lapse (every dog has his/her own limitations). 

Prevention/Treatment: 

Once a dog starts to feel sick in the car, most will not feel better until they exit. However, there are lots of things that all work together to help prevent this from occurring:

1. Keep your Shih Tzu in a raised booster car seat. 

2. Keep windows slightly open. In the summer and in the winter, you’ll have to turn up the AC/heat to compensate; however, a bit of moving air always helps.

3. Keep the car slightly cooler than you would otherwise. This is particularly relevant in the wintertime when you may be prone to cranking the heat.

4. Offer a bit of sugar 10 to 15 minutes beforehand. A little bit of sugar can help calm the tummy and a small jelly bean can do the trick. Be sure to not offer anything with chocolate or sugar substitutes; both of which are toxic to canines. 
5. Do not feed a full meal within 1 hour of driving. Instead, offer a dry dog treat like Old Mother Hubbard Mini Classic Crunchy Natural Dog Treats, given 15 to 20 minutes before leaving, and each time you stop for a break.
 
6. Consider an herbal supplement for stress, tummy issues, or both. 
There are two types:

1) Just for stress. If your Shih Tzu does not like the car and becomes very anxious, but his tummy is fine, you may want to consider a safe supplement just for stress. 

A great one to try is Bach Flower Essences Rescue Remedy. This is a homeopathic supplement that uses 4 types of flowers, all that work to relieve stress. 

This should be given 30 minutes before heading out. And you just give 3 or 4 drops; this can be on a treat, in your Shih Tzu’s water dish, or even straight from the dropper. 
2) For both car stress and tummy woes.
A combination of several all-natural ingredients may help. One that you may want to consider is Lively Pets Ultra Soothe Calming Aid for Dogs. This has passion flower and L-Tryptophan which helps with stress and anxiety. And chamomile flower and ginger root, which are both great home remedies to calm an upset stomach.

7. For long car rides, take breaks. Some dogs seem to be doing well, so owners keep driving. However, every dog has a line in the sand of how much they can take. And it’s a lot easier to prevent car sickness than to reverse it once it begins.

So, for any rides over 30 minutes, take a break at the halfway mark. Pull over somewhere safe, and with your Shih Tzu on leash, allow your dog to stretch his legs, go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, and a small dry snack. 

A Final Word

Our canine family members trust us to protect them from harm. So, please do not risk your Shih Tzu's well-being by not using a canine car seat.

They are easy to use, keep a dog comfortable, and can help prevent motion sickness. So, there is just no reason to play games with your dog's life. 
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