Should I let my dog stick its head out the window?

Lovin' life -- but for how much longer? See more dog pictures.
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­Ah, the life of a dog. No job to leave home for every morning, which means no long commute. There's always a warm place to curl up and sleep, especially the couch when the human's away. Then, there's the ball. What a wonderful invention; so much fun to chase and chew on. You can't deny that dogs have it pretty good.

None of these pleasures can compare to the sheer joy of a car ride. Excepting those that include a visit to the ­vet, car rides can be about as exciting a time as a dog can have. The only problem is that your dog lacks opposable thumbs, which are important for steering and shifting. So your dog has to patiently await your invitation to come along for a ride, possibly raising its head and wagging its tail to indicate that it would like to join you whenever you grab your car keys and make for the front door.

­Finally, you break down, pat your thigh and make kissing noises at your dog -- it's time for a nice Sunday drive. You just open the sun roof, roll down the windows or lower the roof on your convertible and you're off. You two make quite a pair, the wind sailing through y­our hair and fur. Your dog looks pretty happy, head sticking out the window, jowls and ears flapping in the breeze, a string of drool trailing back onto the windshield of the car behind you. It may look like fun, but allowing your dog to ride with his or her head out the window can be harmful, if not outright dangerous.

We don't mean to rain on your dog's parade, but there are a few things you should know before you two go for your next ride.