Bringing your pet along for the ride is a great idea if it means they won’t be left home alone. However, car travel is often stressful for pets, so it’s important you do all you can to keep them safe and comfortable.
When you travel with pets, your number one priority should be to ensure they’re suitably secured and unable to distract you while you’re driving. An unrestrained pet may be injured or cause an injury if you’re forced to break suddenly.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code recommends using a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard to restrain your pet. If possible, use a pet carrier– just make sure it’s properly secured.
If your pet’s never been on a long journey, it’s a good idea to do some practice runs. This will help you judge how your pet deals with car travel, whether they’re anxious passengers, suffer from motion sickness, or simply enjoy the ride.
Practice runs will also give you the opportunity to treat your pet and allow them to form a positive association with car travel. This means they’re less likely to worry on your trip.
Just like us, many pets suffer from travel-induced motion sickness. It’s fairly common and an important consideration before a long journey. If you know your pet suffers from it, your vet will be able to provide medication to help ease symptoms and anxiety. You can also help by giving your pet time to digest their food before a long journey. Feed them well in advance of leaving or wait until you’ve arrived at your destination.
Cars can warm up very quickly and our pets don’t have the luxury of being able to slip out of their coats. Be aware of your pet’s temperature and cool them down if necessary – pop on the air conditioning or open a window for a few minutes at a time. Try and minimise any loud noise in the car, keep the radio low.
Make sure you have time built in for regular breaks. Allow dogs to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. It’s also really important to have plenty of fresh water available when you stop, so that your pet stays hydrated.
If you’re going for an overnight trip (or will be out for an extended period during the day), and leave your pet at home, be sure to make adequate arrangements. Regular access to fresh food, water and enough warmth are essential. If you can, ask a friend or a neighbour to check in on your pet - they’ll welcome a friendly face.
If you’d like further advice, contact your local Medivet practice, who’ll be happy to help