For many of us, pets are a member
of the family and with dogs especially, we enjoy taking them places with us;
whether it’s a stroll to the shop, a weekend away or even a holiday abroad!
With other pets, less used to travelling, it might be a car journey to the vets
or moving home which requires transport in the car. Whatever the situation,
follow our handy tips for stress-free car travel with pets.
Image opposite: IDS Photos on Flikr
Acclimatise your Pet to Car Travel
If you are planning a long journey, get your pet used to travelling in the car beforehand - it will help make it a lot less stressful for them (and you!) in the long run. For dogs, this could start with simply getting in and out of the car and sitting in the vehicle for a time building up to short journeys near to home. Make travelling a positive experience for your pet by taking them somewhere they enjoy such as the park for a walk and then rewarding with treats when arriving at the destination.
If your pet will be travelling in a crate or carry case on your journeys, it is a good idea to let them get used to it in the house beforehand. Try leaving the crate out with the door open for your pet to explore - then it will be familiar to them when it is placed in the vehicle.
Preparation and Packing the Essentials
How much you need to bring for your pet will depend on the length of your journey. Obvious essentials are plenty of clean fresh water (and a bowl to put it in) food/treats and a familiar blanket. Along with poop bags and/or scoop for dogs. However, other things you may need to travel with could include:
- Spare blankets
- Familiar toys
- Pet first aid kit
- Grooming equipment
- Any medication your pet may require
If possible, try and make sure your pet has been to the toilet and not had a heavy meal right before they travel to prevent sickness. A light meal 3-4 hours before is ideal!
Ensure your Pet is Safely Restrained
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.”
Driving safely with an animal on board is a legal requirement so ensure your pet is suitably restrained both for their own comfort, your safety and to prevent any insurance being invalid were an accident to happen.
Small animals, cats and small dogs travel best in a pet carrier or small crate. Larger dogs may require a guard or seat harness to keep them restrained and safe. There are now a whole range of travel products for pets available to ensure your pet is comfortable including dog booster seats for smaller dogs.
Keep your Pet Comfortable and Relaxed
Ensure your pet’s travel environment is safe, comfy and familiar. Having a favourite toy and/or blanket should help your pet feel more relaxed.
Don’t forget to make regular stops if taking a long journey and provide your pet with fresh water, a little food (if necessary) and of course a cuddle or stroke! Park in the shade and ideally don’t leave your pet alone in the car.
Many motorway service stations provide dog walking areas which make ideal places to rest - why not plan out regular stopping points before your journey?
Upgrade to a Pet-Friendly Vehicle
Dog owners, in particular those who travel regularly, perhaps each day for a walk, or take their pet on longer journeys, short breaks or even holidays need to put plenty of thought into their vehicle when upgrading their car.
Those with large dogs, for example, will find a car with a spacious, easy to access boot such as a large estate vehicle much more suitable than a hatchback or saloon. Ensure that the vehicle is easy for your pet to get in and out of and if your pet is large has plenty of space for them including their harness, crate or carrier. Many newer cars offer useful features for pet owners such as wide opening bootlids and boot dividers which can help make travel with pets more comfortable and relaxing.
If you’re interested in finding a quality used car, why not browse the wide range available at Imperial Cars - there’s currently over 2000 vehicles to choose from so you're sure to find something suitable for you - and your pet!