Car travel with your pet

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that when in a vehicle, dogs or other animals should be suitably restrained so they can’t distract the driver or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

As many as a third of drivers are unaware that animals in a vehicle must be suitably restrained.

The penalty for driving whilst distracted by an unrestrained pet is a £100 fine and three penalty points – increasing to as much as £5000 and nine penalty points if the case goes to court. In addition, if you have an accident caused by your becoming distracted by your pet, your car insurance may also be invalidated.

How to make car travel safe and comfortable for you and your pet:

•  Dogs can be secured within the boot with a guard blocking access to the passenger interior, or in a crate or cage securely fastened down. Cats should be in a securely fastened carrier.

•  If using a harness to secure a dog on the rear seats instead, ensure that it is of the right size and correctly fitted. It should be fastened via the seat belt attachment.

•  Consider investing in a crash-tested cage, carrier or harness – some types may not hold up in the event of an accident at speed.

•  Get your dog used to car travel by gradually increasing the time spent in the car and taking varied trips. Putting them in the car only to go to the vet may result in negative associations with travel! Build up to longer journeys and end them with something fun like a walk or a treat.

•  Use some of your pet’s usual bedding or a blanket from home to help them feel secure. Pheromone sprays like Adaptil or Feliway can also help to give comfort and reassurance.

•  Don’t feed immediately before a trip; give them time to digest their meal or leave feeding until after the journey. If your pet continues to be car sick even on an empty stomach, contact us for advice on medication and behavioural training that can help.

•  Never leave your pet unattended in the car. They can overheat to a fatal degree in a matter of minutes. Winding the window down or parking in the shade is not enough to keep them cool.