Dogs in the car: loads cells and pet safety harness testing

Published On: May 26 2022

Pet ownership in the UK is at an all-time high. 59% of households in the UK now own a pet, with a total of 34million domestic animals.

Thanks to lockdown, dog ownership grew in the UK in 2021, with 33% of UK households now sharing their lives with a canine companion or six. Cat come a close second, with 27% of households overseen by a feline!

Load cells play their part in keeping our beloved pets safe in the car, well fed and at a healthy weight. Here’s how.

Dog seat belt testing

Keeping your dog safe in the car is very important. According to the Highway Code:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

As founder of Choose My Car Nick Zapolski explained:

“Having your dog loose in the car can cause both them and you serious harm. Not only can it be very distracting, in the event of a crash, a loose dog flying through the air could be fatal.”

This YouTube video shows just how far a dog will travel if unrestrained at the time of an accident. (Warning: whilst a range of dummy stuffed dogs are used, the slo-mo will still be a hard watch for most dog owners.)

NYPD canine seat belt testing

Students at Clarkson University worked with New York State Police Troop B Barracks in New York to test dog seat belts. As one student explained:

“There is not much about dog seat belts on the internet. Most of the dog seat belts that are out there haven’t actually been tested – they are just a way to restrain the dog in the car. We wanted to see what is the safest one for the dog.”

The team took a life-size stuffed toy dog and filled it with sand to replicate the weight of the dog. A car seat fitted with a dog seat belt was attached to a ramp on a slope. The seat then slid down the incline. simulating a crash at a low speed of between 5 and 10mph. The test rig included:

“Piezoelectric pressure sensors, load cells and accelerometers to measure the forces exerted on the stuffed dog during the test. This information was recorded to a nearby laptop and a cell phone used as a secondary recording device.”

The Center for Pet Safety in the US has crash-tested several pet harnesses. In addition, the Michigan Transportation Research Institute crash-tested harnesses, including the CarSafe harness which was crash-tested and certified up to 32kg. That’s the average weight of a female Labrador Retriever.

Sleeves for pet food manufacturers

Pet food is big business. The UK pet food market was worth a whopping £1.5 billion British pounds in 2021, with products including dry and wet pet food, special diet foods, treats and snacks, and other items such as edible chews.

In a bid to ensure accurate weighing of dog food (and other stuff!), a US company has developed a flexible, translucent sleeve to:

“Provide lightweight, durable connections between weighing equipment without adding significant weight or pressure to load cells.”

Made from food-grade vinyl methyl silicone, these sleeves are used for sanitary process such as the manufacture of food, food, pet food, pharmaceuticals and more.

Step onto the scales please

When you take your dog to the vets, the first requirement is often to check their weight. The dog steps onto a platform scale, usually covered with a non-slip rubber mat, and its weight is displayed on a digital readout. It’s a non-stress way to weigh a dog, and thanks to load cells, provides important measurements to help vets combat a rise in canine obesity. According to a study by the Royal Veterinary College, UK vets reported that 1 in 14 dogs were overweight in 2021.

Need to test your new dog product?

We wok extensively with a wide range of entrepreneurs, designers and manufacturers to provide load cells for their specific material and product testing requirements. We can help design testing rig load cells configurations, and provide replacement after-market load cells for your testing machines too.