There is guidance in the Highway Code relating to travelling with animals, which is as follows:
Rule 57 “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.”
Securing your animal in your car There are a number of different ways you can restrain your pet comfortably but securely whilst travelling, which will ensure the safety of you, your passengers and the animal itself.
Fact: A dog could have the weight equivalent of a baby elephant when being thrown forwards in an accident situation.
This is why it is imperative to secure your animal correctly and securely as this could result in serious injuries or even death.
Travelling containers/crates/carrier boxes are the most popular use of restraints when transporting domestic animals. When transporting a pet in one of these you must ensure that the animal has enough room to sit, stand up and lie down fully and be able to move around freely. You should also make sure that your animal can see outside the container and that there is sufficient ventilation and airflow. Bedding that doesn’t slip should be placed on the floor of the container also.
Popular harnesses for dogs are the extended seat belt restraints. If you use this method, you need the correctly sized restraint for your dog and need to fit it correctly otherwise they’ll not be securely or comfortably held.
Not only is it important to have your dog secured in case of an accident but it’s essential to prevent the animal being a distraction to you or other road users. E.g. if your dog is hanging out the window this could distract another road user causing them to crash.
Pet travel sickness Alike to us, animals can get travel sickness too. Not only is this unpleasant for your dog but your passengers too, to prevent this don’t feed your animal a big meal before travel and perhaps give them something to chew on or a toy to distract them from the motion of the journey. Most animals will become accustomed to travelling after a few journeys, however if they persist to get ill consult your vet.
When travelling with your animal always keep a bottle of water and a small bowl to hand in order to keep your pet hydrated sufficiently. When a dog is under stress they are likely to pant excessively and because dogs use panting to keep themselves cool, they will lose heat and hydration, so by keeping some water handy you can keep your dog content. Also stopping for a drink occasionally on a long journey will give your dog a chance to walk about and stretch – and I’m sure you’ll welcome this too!
DON’T LEAVE YOUR PET IN YOUR VEHICLE
A common mistake many pet owner’s make is to leave their animal in the vehicle whilst they ‘just’ pop into the shops. It is important that you do not under any circumstances leave your animal in the vehicle even if you do leave the windows open a couple of inches.
We all know how hot your vehicle can get when you first get into it on a hot summers day. Surprisingly, the temperature in your vehicle can soar to as high as 47°c on a hot day. You wouldn’t want to endure such heat in a confined space with hardly any or no air ventilation, so why allow your pet to? Pets have died from being left in cars, so not only is it unfair to your pet, but you can also face prosecution and/or a fine for neglect to animals.