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A Guide to travelling with your pets

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A guide to travelling with your pet

With the proper equipment and with planning, there’s no reason to leave your furry friends behind when you hit the road.

Travelling with your pet can involve more than just putting them in the back seat and driving off, especially if you are driving long distances or plan to be away for a while. Before hitting the road, make sure that you have everything you need to keep them happy. We have put together a guide for safe car travel to help you and your pet on the journey.

The law and driving with your pets in the car

According to Rule 57 of the Highway Code, it says that drivers are responsible for making sure their pets are suitably restrained in a vehicle, so they can’t distract, injure you or themselves during an emergency stop.

Making car travel more comfortable for your pet

Some pets have no problem travelling in the car where as others may not like it, but there are plenty of things you can do to make them feel comfortable.

  • Take them in the car when they are young. Pets who are used to travelling are much more likely to be relaxed during car trips. You can start by getting them used to sitting in the car with you, then take a short journey and build up to longer trips. Try and make the experience as positive as possible by taking healthy treats and planning a fun day at the end of the trip
  • Have a short break. It’s always worth stopping and taking a break to let your pets have a walk, get some fresh air and have something to eat or drink. This will break up the journey and gives them time to relax before carrying on with the drive
  • Keep them cool. Don’t forget, your pets have a warm fur coat on all of the time and cars can get warm quickly. Air conditioning or simply opening a window can help to maintain their temperature

Travel Essentials

Sometimes it’s the small things that can make your pet feel more at home when travelling. Below are a few essentials you can pack.

  • Pet passport, insurance documents and claim form if you are travelling abroad. Check with your vet if they need a particular treatment before you travel.
  • Food, treats, water and a bowl to make sure your pet has enough food and water for the entire journey. You can buy collapsible bowls to save space. Treats are handy if you need to get your pet’s attention quickly
  • Collar, name tag or GPS tracker, just in case your pet goes missing. These will make it easier for you or someone else to find your pet
  • Long and short leads. A long lead for letting your pet explore in open spaces and a short lead for keeping them under control if you are walking around a town with lots of people
  • Jacket to keep them warm when you are both out and about, especially if you are going to the beach or out in open spaces
  • Spare Towel, especially if your pet loves to get muddy! You can wipe their paws and dry them if they get wet
  • Medication. Take all of your pets medication with you, as they will still need to keep to their routine of taking it even if you are going away
  • A favourite toy, pillow or bed to give your pet comfort for the journey. They can also provide and sense of familiarity to remind them of home, which can help to settle your pet. A toy provides them with something to chew on or play with for entertainment
  • Poo bags. It’s bound to happen! Spare poo bags will make it easier to clean up after your pet and will save you having to buy them on your journey
  • Brush. Why not pamper your pet whilst your away and groom them with their favourite brush

Keeping your dog safe on your travels

When travelling in the car, it’s important to keep your pets properly restrained to ensure the safety of your pets, your passengers and you as a driver. You could receive a fine of up to £5,000 if your dog isn’t suitably restrained when travelling by car and are pulled over by the police.

  • We are used to strapping ourselves in before driving off and it’s important to do the same for your pets. The Highway Code recommends using a seat belt harness, pet carrier or crate or dog cage or dog guard to restrain your pets
  • It can be dangerous to let your dog ride with their head outside of the window as they could be injured by passing objects or distract you and potentially other drivers
  • Keep your pets and the car cool by using window shades to block direct sunlight
  • Don’t leave your pets in the car on a hot or warm day, as they can overheat, which can be fatal
  • Try and feed your pet a couple of hours before you leave, especially if you know they have travel sickness

Crates and carriers

Crates, carriers, harnesses and barriers are all great solutions for safely securing your pet when travelling in the car.

  • When choosing a crate or carrier, it should be large enough to allow your pet to stand up inside and turn around, but there shouldn’t be so much room that they can slide around. Make sure the crate is securely fastened in place and well-ventilated to ensure enough air flows through. Introduce the crate to your home a few weeks before you travel, so your pet can become accustomed to the crate if they don’t usually use one. If a crate isn’t suitable for your pet, there are other options.
  • A harness fastened to a seat safety belt provides your pet with some freedom inside the car, but restrains them enough from roaming completely free. Be sure to buy a harness that’s specifically designed to be used with safety belts and is a snug but not tight fit.
  • Barriers can also be effective restraints, and are great for securing a dog in an open area. Make sure the barrier can be securely attached to the interior framework of your vehicle, and that it’s rated to restrain the weight of your dog in an accident.

Going somewhere new with your pets can be and should be a fun experience for all of you. We hope the above tips have helped you to have a safe and enjoyable journey.

By Melissa Pickburn

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