Two of the reasons for the growing popularity of SUVs and crossovers are the big rear cargo area and taller ride height. A new study suggests that while that big hatch might be great for your doggo, the extra height might not be.
The study, published in the UK's Veterinary Record, measured the force experienced by dogs jumping out of the back of a simulated vehicle cargo area. Researchers took 15 healthy adult dogs of 14 different breeds and then had them jump from three heights. The heights simulated three common cargo area heights. They measured the forces the dogs experienced on their forelimbs as well as how the force was exerted.
The dogs in the test covered nine breeds and one mixed, ranging from 13.8 to 33.2 kg. They jumped from a platform set at 55 cm, then 65 cm and finally 75 cm. The researchers said that the heights used covered common cargo floor heights. Not surprisingly, the higher heights increased the stresses on the dogs' front legs.
Jumping from the highest height increased ground pressure roughly 25 percent compared with the lowest height. That suggests a greater chance of injury in those leaps. According to the paper, "results suggest that allowing dogs to jump from bigger cars with a higher boot sill may result in augmented levels of loading on anatomical structures."
One other thing the study noted was that many cargo areas aren't completely flat like the plate used in the test. If the dog has to jump up and over the hatch opening, it raises the height of the fall and shortens the landing distance. This could increase the stresses and chance of injury.
The authors of the paper said that more research is needed for a definitive link between jumping down and front leg injury, but said that "this study provides the first objective evidence to support the commonplace belief that allowing dogs to repeatedly jump clear from vehicles with high boot compartments may be inadvisable."
If you want to keep Rover's jumps to a minimum, and he's too big to lift safely, ramps are available for many vehicles that can let them walk down instead of jumping.