Driving with pets

Now we are in the midst of the holiday season, you’re likely to venture on those longer car journeys. Whether it be travelling to the beach for the day or taking the children away during school holidays, time in the car will be well spent catching up with family members, playing those classic video games or catching up on a favourite TV series (if you’re not driving that is). Although we can make the most of the time off, long car journeys can make our pets restless, anxious and in some cases even sick. So, whether you have a furry feline, a canine companion or even a scaly sidekick, if you are thinking about taking your pet on the family road trip this summer, it’s important that you think ahead and plan for their safety and comfort during the journey. 

Where we can’t promise miracles, here are some steps you can take to ensure that they are restful, comfortable and safe this summer.

Before you leave the house, don’t forget the essentials

Before you leave the house, make sure that you have everything you need to ensure your pet is comfortable during the journey. Pack enough food and fresh water (I put this in bottles) to give your pet during pit-stops. Remember to pack any medication that your pet is taking, their leash and food bowls. Your dog might be well behaved and will only need to go to the loo when you stop for a break, in some cases, as with my cat, the nerves of travelling often mean that they will soil their crates during the journey so pet friendly wet wipes and plastic bags are advised.  

Also, dogs and cats like familiarity, so I always make sure that I put their favourite toy and blanket in their designated spot, this will act as a calming aid for your beloved pet.

Comfort first

If you are travelling with your pet in a crate/ pet carrier, it’s important that you have the right size crate. If it is too big, or too small for your pet then he/she could get hurt or injured. As a rule of thumb, your pet should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around inside their crate without touching the sides. This also means that if they are sitting upright, there head shouldn’t be touching to top of the crate/ pet carrier. Oh and don’t forget that the length of your pet also includes their tail, make sure this isn’t bunched up.

Buckle your buddy up!

We have all watched and loved the videos of dogs riding shotgun with their heads out of the window enjoying the fresh air and, where this makes for a cute video, it is actually quite dangerous for your pooch and is now actually against the law. Rule 57 of the highway code states: ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while 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’. It’s therefore important to ensure your pet is correctly strapped in before setting off on your travels.

Remember routine

Your pet will feel more at home if their routine stays the same. If you are travelling over the course of what would usually be breakfast or dinner time then stop, pull over and feed your pet. This will allow your pet to feel more comfortable and not like they are doing something out of their routine. 

Take a break

Your pet probably doesn’t like being in the car any more than you do so make sure you take regular breaks to allow your pooch to stretch his legs and get a bit of fresh air. Whether you are taking a long or a short journey, it’s advisable to plan your pit stops to break up the journey and check out that where you are going to be stopping is animal friendly.

Did you know that, under UK legislation, the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence for a dog to be off-lead on some designated roads?

If your dog runs into the road and is either hit by another vehicle or causes an accident then you can be liable for that accident.

Keep check of your noise levels

As with humans, excessive noise can also harm animal’s ears. Having your radio on full blast whilst driving is definitely not going to be appreciated by your pet.

Think about where you’re walking your dog

Hot weather means hot surfaces which you may come across on your daily walks such as the pavement. During the summer months try and avoid walking your dog in the mid-day sun and try to stick to grass areas. If you’re not sure whether the pavement is too hot for your dog, you can test this yourself. If you can’t keep your hand or bare foot on the pavement for 10 seconds, it is too hot for your dog. If you’re away on holiday you should also consider the temperature of the sand. We all know that awful feeling of walking on burning hot sand during the summer, so it’s important that your pets are protected too.

Do not leave your pet in a parked car EVER

This summer has certainly been a hot one and our pets will be feeling the heat just as much as us. We can’t stress the importance of keeping your pets out of the heat, especially in a vehicle.  If you are travelling with more than one adult why don’t you take it in turns to have a quick leg stretch and toilet break, in the meantime the other adult can facilitate your pet in doing the same!

Do you know how quickly the temperature in a parked car rises? We have produced a table below which shows just how temperatures can nearly double in a short amount of time.

Do you know how quickly the temperature in a parked car rises?

Time Temperature (°C)
initial state 21 24 26.5 29.5 32 35
10 minutes 31.5 34.5 37 40 42.5 45.5
20 minutes 37 40 42.5 45.5 48 51
30 minutes 40 42.5 45.5 48 51 54
40 minutes 42 45 48 50.5 53.5 56
50 minutes 44 46.5 49.5 52 55 58
60 minutes 45 48 50.5 53.5 56 59
over an hour 46 49 51.5 54.5 57 60



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