As we described in our review of car-safety harnesses in the May 2021 issue, even the best products on the market for medium and larger dogs are limited in the amount of comfort and safety they provide – and none of them can accommodate dogs smaller than 11 lbs. Happily, there is a very safe and comfortable car-safety product available for small dogs (those 45 lbs and less): the PupSaver.
The dog is held in place in the middle of the padded seat by a strap that clips to a ring on the front/bottom of the harness – lower than a front-clip walking harness, but not quite between the dog’s front legs. The combination of the harness and the strap provide only part of the protection, however; the shape and padding of the PupSaver, assisted by the shoulder belt, help catch and contain the dog if he’s been thrown by the force of a collision.
For the best way to understand how the seat works, see the crash-test videos on the PupSaver website (pupsaver.com). The website also has links to several videos that show you how to install the seat. We didn’t find the installation to be difficult, but a friend found it more daunting and reported that the video made all the difference.
Like infant safety seats, the PupSaver provides the highest degree of safety when installed in the back seat of a car. Though the car’s seat belts are used whether it is installed in the front or back seat, the PupSaver’s metal j-hooks can be used to additionally secure it with the car’s LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system in the back seat.
ISSUES OR NON-ISSUES
The owner of our tiny test dog, Samson, anticipated that he would feel constrained by his inability to see over the curved, padded back of the PupSaver, particularly when it was installed in the car’s back seat. In reality, Samson relaxed into the cushioned seat without a fuss. That turned out to be a non-issue, particularly because he could still stand up and see out the side window.
As a mother and grandmother with extensive infant- and toddler-car-seat experience, I was concerned about installing the PupSaver in the front seat; rear-facing infant car seats are never supposed to be installed where an airbag could smash into and displace them, injuring the baby in the seat. But because the PupSaver is soft, not rigid, if an airbag went off, at most it would push the cushioned PupSaver and dog into the car’s seat back. In fact, a number of testimonials on the PupSaver website describe accidents where all the car’ airbags deployed and the dogs were unharmed.
PRICING AND SIZES
The PupSaver seat comes in three sizes: PupSaver Petite (for dogs who weigh 10 lbs or less); PupSaver (for dogs 10 to 30 lbs); and PupSaver 45 (for dogs 35 to 45 pounds). The price varies by size and type of fabric used for the cover, but ranges from $150 to $180.
The PupSaver compatible harnesses are sold separately for $30. They are available in four sizes, ranging from XXS Petite (for dogs who are 5 to 6 lbs) to Medium (for dogs who weigh 30 to 45 lbs).
Does this seem expensive to you? It did to us, too – until we tested the product for the past six months and saw how easy it was to install and use, how much our test dog liked it, and how well it worked. When you add in that fact that small dogs usually live longer than larger dogs (and so you could amortize its cost over a longer time), it seems like a great investment to us.