As warmer weather approaches, many of us might be planning a summer staycation – and taking our precious pets along for the ride! Though it might seem like the perfect solution, there are many things to consider before your furry friend joins you on a road trip.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing’s top tips for pet safe car journeys.
KEEPING EVERYONE SAFE
“Though we’re all very used to strapping ourselves in, many of us don’t realise that our dogs can’t just roam freely inside a car, they need to be safely restrained and cuddling on your lap doesn’t count! If your dog isn’t secure they may potentially distract the driver which could cause an accident, so it’s important for the safety of everyone in the car
“The Highway Code states that drivers must “make sure dogs and other animals are suitably restrained” in the car. If you are involved in a car crash due to being distracted by your pet, you could be fined and receive penalty points for driving without due care and attention, which may also invalidate your insurance. Suitable restraints include seat belt harnesses, pet carriers, dog cages or guards and thankfully, they’re easy to get hold of.
MAKING CAR TRAVEL MORE COMFORTABLE FOR YOUR PET
“Ideally, it’s best for dogs to become used to being in a car from a young age, so they feel more at ease during longer journeys. Before you set out, give your pooch a chance to have a drink and stretch their legs. Plan your journey so there are frequent stops throughout and end your drive with a reward, like a treat, a walk or some play time – after all, being cooped in a car for too long isn’t comfortable for anyone.
“On warmer days, cars can quickly heat up, so consider leaving early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day and make sure you keep your car as cool as possible. You can even get non-spill water bowls so your pet can have access to water for the whole trip. As much as it might be tempting, avoid letting your dog stick their head out of the window while driving, which can be dangerous to themselves and other drivers.
“Car sickness in pets is thought to be caused when certain types of movement affect the balance centre in the brain, combined with some of the anxiety and stress that may come with travelling. Before setting out on a long road trip, it might be worth trying a few shorter practice runs if your dog isn’t used to being in a car for longer periods of time. Just like humans, dogs will feel less sick if they face forward while travelling, rather than looking out of side windows.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.