It can be great fun taking a pet for a drive, but the last thing you whilst out on the road is an animal misbehaving in the car. Naturally, we all want to be able to get from A to B with our pets while remaining as safe as possible. It's also really important to make sure our pets are secured in a way that's road-legal too. Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out the tips listed below.
Safe and secure
You wouldn't allow a toddler to travel in your car without being properly secured, so why should your pets be any different? The Highway Code states that "dogs or other animals are suitably restrained" while travelling in a car, and that "they cannot distract you while you're driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop too quickly."
To combat this issue, things like guards, harnesses and carriers can prove to be an invaluable asset to any vehicle. What's more, the law recommends them – which is handy if you're looking to stay in your insurer's good books.
In a recent survey conducted by ourselves, 1 in 5 (22%) British pet owners admitted that they do not restrain their pets whilst travelling in a vehicle and 1 in 10 (9%) drivers stated that travelling with their pet makes them feel distracted.
As well as ensuring your pet is properly secured, the law also states that a pet "should be healthy and fit for the intended journey" before heading off on a road trip. Obviously, this makes a lot of sense – not only does it protect your pet if they're feeling under the weather, it also saves you the job of clearing up any potential nasties that occur as a result of their illness. Result!
Leading pet charity the RSPCA report that high numbers of dogs can struggle with travel, often due to motion sickness or due to anxiety, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet to make sure they are not displaying signs of travel-related problems such as barking, whining, jumping, attempting to run around the car, salivating, vomiting, attention-seeking, licking, cowering, hiding or restlessness. If your dog is nervous, do not punish him/her for any signs of travel-related problems.
During the summer months, it isn't uncommon to hear the tragic story of a dog that's suffocated as a result of being left in a hot car, with poor ventilation often cited as the main contributing factor.
Cracking the window while you do the big shop is certainly a must, but one thing that's often forgotten is the importance of opening a window as you travel. This is especially important on warm or muggy days – and if you see your pet becoming openly distressed (excessive panting, whining etc.), then be sure to pull over and give them a drink of water.
The RSPCA recommend that pets have regular breaks with access to water during long journeys and that the temperature inside the vehicle is comfortable so they will not overheat, reminding owners never to leave a pet inside a vehicle when parked on a warm day as temperatures can quickly rise and pets can suffer, or even die, from heat exposure.
So you've nailed the basics listed above, but why stop there? There's plenty of little things to consider when it comes to driving with your pets, all you've got to do is try and remember the following. . .
- Packing a few treats for your pet is always a wise idea. Not only will a snack help to calm them down during particularly stressful trips, it'll also provide you with the opportunity to reward good behaviour.
- While it may look cool to allow your dog to stick its head out of the window or sit beside you in the front seat, it's actually fairly unsafe to do so. With this in mind, always put dogs in the boot, and other, smaller animals on the backseat in the appropriate carrier.
- Don’t attach a lead to your pet during your time in the car – this should help to avoid issues such as strangulation.
- Playing with your pet before a long journey will help to tire them out, which may lead to them sleeping for the duration of the trip.