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PetEgo’s Pet Tube: Chloe’s current car safety solution

For three years, Chloe’s car safety solution was a combination of the medium-sized Snoozer Lookout car booster seat (strapped to the car with the right rear safety belt) and a harness-and-belt that she wore while in it (clipped to the right rear “latch bar” of our car). I felt pretty good about that approach, right up to the day that I watched a series of videos filmed by the Center for Pet Safety, showing what happens to a crash-test dummy of a Boxer wearing a number of safety harnesses/tethers (makers unidentified) in a 50 mph crash.

I was so horrified by the videos that I immediately swapped Chloe’s harness and tether and Snoozer booster seat out in favor of the Pet Tube from PetEgo. It was not a popular move: Chloe missed seeing out the window, and my husband missed canoodling with her. A year later, though, I can report that Chloe travels comfortably in the Pet Tube, and my husband has stopped sulking.

Chloe in her Pet Tube, which hangs, via two adjustable straps, from the headrest of a car seat; that panel hanging down in the foreground zips closed to shut her in.

More about the Pet Tube in a moment, but those of you who travel a lot with dogs (going to dog shows, for example) will be wondering why I didn’t choose the safest option of all, a crate like the classic PetMate Sky Kennel or the snazzy new 4Pets Dog Box, strapped to the car with a safety belt or tie-downs. If I were starting from scratch, with a new puppy, that’s what I’d do, but I felt like that would be too much of a change for Chloe’s comfort. She had grown accustomed to being able to see us, everything in the car, and a good chunk of the outside world from her booster seat, and from a crate she’d see none (well, much less, anyway) of those things. She was cranky enough in the Pet Tube for the first couple of weeks, and it at least lets her see easily around the car.

[1/28/14 It turns out that this entire next paragraph (and the picture, above) is wrong: In fact, per the video reader that Terri posted in a comment (see below), the Pet Tube is actually secured by fixing its two straps around the back seat. Please see my update post for more details. Now, mind you, the Pet Tube worked for us for over half a year as I’ve described below, and I don’t believe it’s unsafe used that way — and it certainly is easier to move from one car to another if the straps are merely hooked over the headrest. On the other hand, secured around the seat back, the Pet Tube doesn’t budge — and it can be installed even in cars without headrests.]

The Pet Tube turns out to be a good choice. It took me awhile to figure out how it works best — initially, I left the straps long, and pulled the right rear seatbelt across them to keep the tube pinned closer to the seat, but a few months ago I realized that if I dramatically shortened the PetTube’s hanging straps instead, there was no need for the safety belt. In an accident, if the hanging straps were cinched short enough, the Pet Tube would swing up and forward without hitting the passenger seat in front of Chloe.

Here’s what I like about the PetTube: It has excellent ventilation and visibility. Both ends zip open, so when the tube is hanging from your car’s right rear headrest, you can load your pup into it from the right rear door, and also reach into the tube from the driver’s seat. It can be collapsed into a thick pancake (18″ in diameter and about 3″ thick) and secured with a zipper, so it can go into a suitcase for those trips where you’ll be driving at your destination. Chloe likes the PetTube because she can change positions without getting tangled up in a harness strap (and no harness means that loading and unloading her is easier on us too). Although it’s an awkward shape for a carrier, I like the fact that you can attach a shoulder strap to it in a pinch — it doesn’t come with one, but if you have an extra, stow it in the car for emergencies.

Here’s what I’m less fond of: The “optional” comfort pillow really is a necessity, since it creates a firm, flat platform for your pup to lie on (we add a soft pad on top of that — neatly, the same size supplemental pad we use for Chloe’s large SturdiBag, the XS Pet Dreams Plush Sleep-Eez pad, also works in her PetTube). That’s not a calamity, but the pillow does take up a significant amount of suitcase room. The PetTube also requires a real headrest to hook around — on a couple of occasions, we’ve found ourselves in cars with only vestigial headrests on the back seats, and Chloe’s had to ride in the right front seat area (if this happens to you, be sure to disable the right front air bag).

On balance, I’m happy with the PetTube. A hard crate would be safer, there’s no doubt about it, but the features (and convenience) of the PetTube work well for us.

Amazon links:

Petego Pet Tube Car Kennel

Petego Comfort Pillow for Pet Tube, Small

Petego Comfort Pillow for Pet Tube, Large

Pet Dreams Plush Sleep-eez Dog Bed

15 comments

  • EcoDog

    Thanks for the review! I ordered the large pet tube from amazon today. I didn’t order the pillow – I thought I would check it out and see what I think before I spend the extra money. Our road trip with the three dogs isn’t until September, so I should have plenty of time to figure out what works. I think the dogs will like it. After seeing those crash test videos, I’m not sure if I could put them in the seat belt harnesses again.

  • Reader Andee left this comment on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page, and kindly agreed that I could copy it here, so it won’t get lost in the ether: ” This is what we optioned for too, after using the dog bed/harness/dog seatbelt option for many years. Those videos can be very convincing/convicting, no? The Pet Tube is working for us, too, after some canine protests of “we can’t see” “we don’t want to be in the third row”. We have the big one, because we have a boxer and a Cav. I admit I just tossed a body pillow in ours for the girls, lol. Last year around Christmas, PetEgo had an awesome 50% off sale on these . I also like that I can shorten our large one if we are just taking one of them somewhere (however rare that may be, lol). Even the big one folds up into a manageable size, though I am thinking of adding some clip straps for faster folding instead of having to zip it up all the time.”

    I asked her to tell me more about her clip plan, and she said, “Clips like are on the straps to go around the headrest, but on shorter straps in a 3 or 4 point spacing around the “circle”. Probably 4, now that I think about it. If I get around to actually doing it, I’ll let you know how it works out or if I end up taking them off and just zipping it.”

    Thanks, Andee!

  • And reader Julie sent me an email about a comment she’d left (more of a review, really) on another blog’s post about the Bergan Travel Harness + Seat Belt Tether. Here’s what she said to me (I’m deleting her kinds words about Dog Jaunt, but thank you for those too, Julie!): “[I]it looks like the options for car travel are slim due to the lack of safe car harnesses. Until the industry for that product reaches higher standards, the best we can do is try alternative methods of safety restraint. I thought you would like my review of the Bergan Travel Harness + Seatbelt Tether. It’s not an extensive but I hope it helps others since I rely on reviews like this when shopping for pet products. This is the link where I commented with the same review I provided below: http://thepreventivevet.tumblr.com/post/7926665396/bergantravelharnessreview

    And here’s what Julie wrote in her comment on The Preventive Vet’s post: “I’ve been using the Bergan Travel Harness with the seatbelt tether for about 3 years and I have decided that it is not fully effective for my dog. I have a 13 lb Maltese and he has been able to wiggle out of it a few times over the past few years by pulling forward. He does need to pull somewhat hard but I imagine the force of an impact to be greater than that and he would be thrown out of his harness during an accident. And yes, the harness is quite snug on his body. That being said, I am still using the harness since there is no alternative product available (I have tried others that were worse) and it keeps him in his seat as long as he is somewhat calm. Ideally, I would crate my dog in the car using a wire or hard-sided carrier and we are working on it.

    I know that some companies are (Subaru?) are conducting crash tests on dog travel harnesses and I hope that this eventually leads to manufacturing of truly certified products since none actually exists in the US. This is just an idea but since every dog is so physically different, custom-fit travel harness would be something I would definitely buy and recommend. The variety of regular dog harnesses for walking is a testament to the fact that there is no product that is truly ‘one size fits all’.”

  • Elizabeth

    We are currently in the market for a new travel option for Penny. I really like the look of the tube, but I would be concerned that Penny would not like it as she is used to sitting up high in her snoozer car seat all while being able to see us. However, I would be willing to try the tube out. Great review!

  • Stefanie @DogSplendor

    I’ve been meaning to do a review of our PetEgo PetTube for ages. We’ve had ours about a year also and LOVE it. We have 2 dogs under 20 pounds each, and bought the large. We didn’t get the interior pad, but instead put an old bed pillow plus a large blanket in the bottom of the tube. We use it full size on a longer car trip, and compressed to the smaller size for shorter trips, 1 dog, or when someone is in the backseat with them. The dogs love it and gladly hop right in. They used to always try to wiggle out of their harness or avoid being harnessed, but we’ve had no “complaints” from either dog since getting the tube. It seems so comfy for them, is well ventilated, and they can see us. Also, no slobbering inside the car.

  • Well, would you look at THAT, Terri — he threads the restraining straps through the base of the seat and over the top, clipping them together in back (essentially, in the trunk area). Fascinating — I’m going to check that out myself. Thank you for the video link!!

  • Alyissa Barrie

    why did you just get a PupSaver or a Variocage Mini (you mention the 4petbox but the variocage is actually safer – petbox doesn’t have crumple zones and wasn’t tested for rollovers)? I gave you a link of a website that sells both

  • Hello, Alyissa — Thanks so much for providing the links to information about other intriguing car safety options. Neither fits my particular car needs, but they may well work for another reader — and the Variocage is appealingly sturdy-sounding. I’ll check it out!

  • I’ve had my head in the sand for a while now, IcePonyGirl, but I just ordered the new air Pup Saver, which is crash tested (though perhaps not by the Center for Pet Safety). Thank you very much for the heads up — I’ll write a new post when I’ve received and installed the Pup Saver.

  • Jen

    So disappointed to see that crash video of the pet tube. I use the large tube for my 3 small dogs. In my car, the large pet tube fills all of the space in the back seat – it touches the backs of the front seats. I do not think that it would be able to fly forward in a crash (like in the video) because there isn’t anywhere for it to go. We are still using it for now – it does a great job of containing the dog hair at least.

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