Whether you’re taking a trip to the vet or going for a day out, it’s really important that you pet’s happy, comfortable and – most importantly – safe when they travel with you in the car.
Our vets have put together some advice on travelling with pets:
- The Highway Code: travelling with pets
- Preventing injuries for your pet passengers
- Car restraints for pets
- Crash-tested pet restraints
- Advice on travelling with pets
The Highway Code states:
"When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."
Breaching the Highway Code isn’t necessarily a legal offence but a motorist could be considered to be driving ‘without due care and attention’ if their pet is loose in the car.
A loose pet can easily distract the driver. They could also block or move the steering wheel, gear stick and foot pedals. This could be considered dangerous driving, which is much more serious in the eyes of the law.
A simple restraint or carrier can stop your dog or cat from moving around the car and distracting you. However, it may not protect you or your pets from getting injured in an accident so you might want to consider a fully crash-tested product.
Just like a human passenger, a pet passenger that isn’t properly secured in the car could be seriously hurt in a crash – and could cause injuries to other passengers in the car.
There are a number of affordable products available, including:
- pet seatbelts
- crates that can be secured in the boot of a vehicle.
You can buy these on PDSA Petstore.
These will stop your pet moving your car while you’re driving but they aren’t crash-tested and might not protect your pets or passengers in an accident. It’s important to understand the difference between these restraints and products that have passed a crash test when thinking about what’s right for your pet’s safety.
The Centre for Pet Safety has tested a wide range of harnesses and carriers. Of all the products available, only 3 passed the crash test and offered proper protection.
The following harness, carrier and crate passed the testing and are certified by the CPS:
- Sleepy Pod Clickit Support Harness
- SleepyPod Carrier
- Gunner Kennel GI Intermediate
It is important that our pets are comfortable on journeys and can avoid injury or stress. Pets who are used to travelling in an appropriate restraint from an early age are more likely to travel safely.
- Make sure your pet is safely restrained in the car.
- Take regular breaks and always offer your pets’ fresh water as well as allowing them to exercise.
- Never ever leave pets unattended in a vehicle. Dogs and cats don’t cool themselves down as effectively as humans so quickly suffer from heat stroke and dehydration. Leaving a window open or parking in the shade is not enough to reduce the car temperature.
- Don’t let your dog to hang their head out of the car window. They could knock their head on something or tumble out of the window. It’s also a distraction for the driver and other road users.
Help your pets get used to travelling in a car. Build up to longer journeys with short trips and ask your vet for advice if your pet suffers from anxiety or fear when travelling.