Safe car travel for your pets

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

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. If an accident occurred as a result, it could be considered dangerous driving, which carries more serious penalties.

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 – you might want to consider a fully crash-tested product. 

Preventing injuries for your pet passengers

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. 

Car restraints for pets

There are a number of affordable restraints on the market, including:

  • pet seatbelts
  • harnesses 
  • crates that can be secured in the boot of a vehicle. 

We sell a variety of these restraints on PDSA Pet Store. 

However, whilst these will stop your pet moving around the vehicle while you are driving, they aren’t crash-tested and may not protect your pets or passengers in an accident. It’s important to know the difference between these and products that are designed to protect your pet in a crash when you’re considering what’s right for your pet’s safety. 

Crash-tested pet restraints

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

General advice on travelling with pets:

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. It is potentially dangerous for the dog as well as distracting for the owner and other drivers.
  • 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.