As pets, especially dogs, increasingly become inseparable from their owners, companies are cashing in on what is becoming a lucrative market ranging from safety restraints in cars, motion sickness medicine and insurance, all for canines.
Auto industry officials say owners need to be responsible when taking their dogs on drives.
“It’s possible dogs might interfere with the driver, or get hurt when a car brakes suddenly,” said Shozo Yabushita, a spokesman for the Japan Automobile Federation. “They should be securely fastened in a seat.”
Last year, BMW Japan Corp. began selling seat belts for dogs. They cost more than 20,000 yen a set, and company officials say about 50 sets are sold a month.
Nissan Motor Co. has come out with a pet carrier, a square mesh bag that can be attached to rear seat belts.
Pet product manufacturers are marketing similar items, including Osaka-based Wanwan Neverland, which caters to dog lovers.
Japan Highway Public Corp. has set up dog runs at six service areas to help the animals shake off the stress of long travel. Many service areas now have special garbage bins where animal waste can be thrown away, or areas where pets can drink water.
Axa Direct, a nonlife insurance firm, sells insurance with special contract conditions that cover dogs and cats. The product pays up to 100,000 yen for medical treatment for a premium of less than 1,000 yen.
Veterinarian Katsushige Miyata said dogs easily fall prey to motion sickness, so it is best not to put them in cars until several hours after they have eaten. Medicine specifically for dogs is also available.
“Dogs love to move, so if they are gradually trained to ride in cars from when they are puppies, they should be able to enjoy the trips with the rest of the family,” he said.
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